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Travel Treasures: My top 5 Pavilions of the Architecture Biennale in Venice 2014

Here comes finally the post of my visit to the Architecture Biennale this year. I have loads of images but I thought it could be nice to show you a sum up of the five pavilions I liked most and give you a little insight of the concept behind. The interesting point here is, I was much more drawn to  the proposal of smaller countries with possibly a smaller budget but a fresher design. I am perfectly aware that this is not a typical post but Travel Treasures is not necessarily related to beautiful wallpaper or nice interiors, and I am curious to hear what you think today.

Curated by the renowned Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, the 14th International Architectural Exhibition-titeled “Fundamentals”- returns to the timeless basics of architecture featuring 66 pavilions. These national pavilions explore global and local trends under the theme of “Absorbing Modernity: 1914-2014”.

Finland Pavilion 14

Let’s kick off with the Finnish Pavilion designed by Alvar Aalto in 1956, Re-Creation is a two-part installation based on a concept by Anssi Lassila. One part of the installation was constructed by a Finnish master carpenter (pic 5) and his team, and the other by a Chinese team.

Finland Pavilion 15

Finland Pavilion 18

Together the two parts strike up a complex dialogue between the architects and builders. Re-Creation is the result of a deliberate and mutual exposure of the almost timeless architecture fundamentals of a nation to the rapidly changing cultural realities of a modern city: Finland and Shenzhen. A Nordic nation, famous for its calm and serenity meets a city, famous for its speed at the heart of Pearl River Delta.

Finnish pavilion Biennale (3)

Finnish pavilion Biennale (1)

Finnish pavilion Biennale

With two primitive huts (one from solid wood, the other made of bamboo) that the visitor can enjoy from within, the installation provides two examples of space and shelter at their purest. A still very universal need, I believe.

Serbian Pavilion Biennale 3

The Serbian Pavilion was surrounded by the nicest park close to a lovely canal, and the installation would not disappoint either.

Serbian Pavilion Biennale 1

Serbian Pavilion Biennale 2 (1)

The daylight-filled interior of the exhibition space is the framework for a hundred significant architectural projects between 1914 and 2014, while the surroundings are dedicated to the project of the Museum of the Revolution of Nations and Nationalities of Yugoslavia by the Croatian architect Vjenceslav Richter.

Serbian Pavilion Biennale 2

Serbian Pavilion Biennale 1

Serbian Pavilion Biennale

What seems to be printed paper here is in reality a thin colored wooden surface. It was far too hot in there but I liked the mise-en-scene a lot!

Austrian pavilion Biennale

The Austrian Pavilion was another highlight. You never guess what are you getting inside, the buildings have no windows and it is always a total surprise. This exhibition is called Plenum- Places of Power.

Austrian pavilion Biennale (1)

Austrian pavilion Biennale 3

The parliament represents the place where the power of the people has found its home. The assembly of 196 parliaments as 1.500 scale models here on the walls creates a parliament of parliaments, a plenum of similarities and differences, where monumentality becomes ornament through…guess what…repetition!

Austrian pavilion Biennale (2)

Austrian pavilion Biennale 4

The installation itself is entertaining and super inspiring and what strikes most is to read to which country these parliaments belong to. The number of habitants or size of the country has nothing to do with the size of the building itself. It seems in some countries we talk more about a question of status. Or would you have assumed that Myanmar had one of the biggest parliaments in the world?

Zcech Pavilion Biennale Venice

Then there was the Czech Republic Pavilion which I loved because of its simplicity in design and communication. One might find it a bit gloomy but there was plenty of light in it.

Zcech Pavilion Biennale (3)

Zcech Pavilion Biennale (1)

Zcech Pavilion Biennale (2)

Before World War II, apartment buildings for workers represented the development of the fifth most advanced economy in the world. New cities for the emerging mining industry were formed in the 1950s and the increasing housing standard changed most of the cities in Czechoslovakia in the 19070s. The come back of family homes after the velvet revolution of 1989 may conclude the story of the most common architectural type in the country.

Zcech Pavilion Biennale (4)

Zcech Pavilion Biennale (5)

Zcech Pavilion Biennale (6)

Expozition presents the journey from a worker’s house towards collective housing of the communist era and subsequent return to family homes after 1989.

Zcech Pavilion Biennale

And this was another very nice  (loved the colors here) and super informative  proposal, one of those you have to spend time and do learn a lot:  Forms of Freedom: African Independence and Nordic Models. The teaming up of these 6 countries is already very promising. Don’t you think?

Scandi+Africa Pavilion Biennale 2

Scandi+Africa Pavilion Biennale 3

The liberation of Tanzania, Kenya and Zambia in the 1969s took place at the same time with the founding of state development aid in the Nordic countries with the belief that the social democratic model could be exported, translated, and used for nation-building, modernization and welfare in Africa. And this is what I love about the Nordic nations!

Scandi+Africa Pavilion Biennale 4

Scandi+Africa Pavilion Biennale

The leaders of the new African states wanted partners without a murky colonial past, and established solid bonds with the Nordic countries. During a few intense years in the 60s and 70s, Nordic architects contributed to the rapid process of modernization in this part of Africa stated on the several panels, photography and videos throughout the exhibition.

Scandi+Africa Pavilion Biennale 1

I have seen dozens of different exhibitions and couldn’t say which one is my favorite here but these five were those I remembered more. We have been visiting and working at the Biennale during 4 days and I just can tell you, you don’t manage to see everything but I highly recommend the Biennale (open still until November,23rd). Just the surrounding of the Giardini and Arsenale are so pretty, it’s worth the entire visit.

I have to admit many concepts were just too intellectual for me but getting out of my ‘interior design zone’ is one of my educational goals this year and -boy- did I get out of my comfort zone! I would definitely go again and think of planning a visit next year to the Art Biennale which takes place once every two years (and is not less intellectual:-)

PD: And in case you missed it, this was another very pretty installation in Venice:  800.000 golden mosaic stones!

How about some extra inspiration?

8 Responses

  1. Still have to find out time for visiting it and I’m so close to Venice (I’m ashamed of this!!), will go for sure in next days…Very nice report, Venice Biennale is always something very fashinating to be visited :)

  2. Really interesting to read Gudy. Some of the installations seem rather abstract and thought provoking and agree that we have a lot to learn and respect with the Nordic nations. Mel xx

    1. Oh, yes, that is not an exhibition to just stroll through, well, you could do that but would miss the main thing. I feel in a world of fast visualization, it was not easy to stay still and read the concepts behind. But then Venice with all its splendor would give the perfect counterpart again:-) xx

  3. Un grandísimo post!
    Que caña! Sinceramente, todos me parecen brutales! Cada uno en su mundo es de una belleza irresistible!

    Eres una caña! Como molas!

  4. Wow what an overwhelming amount of beauty, creativity and interesting highlights! I visited the Venice Biennale once (the Art Biennale, not the Architecture Biennale) and loved the many pavillions and interpretations of different nations. My favorite was the Finnish pavillion and it surprisingly looks very much alike your 2nd image from the bottom, with the trees growing inside a building with horizontal panels. I’d love to go again, to the Art or even Architecture Biennale. So refreshing, although it’s a lot to take in and you need to choose/skip accordingly, right? Thanks for sharing your highlights and beautiful pictures, Gudy!

    1. Thank you, Judith, I do appreciate. It’s been a special post, quite technical in a way but I still wanted to share it and love your feedback. Next year it’s the Art Biennale, go in June if you can, I found it to be the prefect time of the year!xx

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