The French pavilion focuses on the original role of architecture, i.e. how can an architect create something that improves the daily life of everyone? More and more people on our planet are still looking for a decent place to live, and the conditions for achieving this are getting more complicated every day.
The exhibition starts from ordinary living situations in France, which everyone knows but which are most of the time overlooked. Even though no one pays attention, transformations take place, often with the support of local organizations and as a collective effort. These projects are sometimes modest, but they develop simple solutions for their residents, their visitors, their users which makes their value undeniable. The outcome exceeds the work of the architect and becomes a shared intelligence.
The main room of the pavilion shows 10 places in France which have been transformed. Pictures show both the original state and the recent transformation, and most importantly also how the change has improved the daily living situation of the residents. The three smaller rooms are filled with pictures, drawings, building models and testimonies of different projects in France.
“The French pavilion shows an unexpected scope of French architecture. We decided to ‘report’ from more familiar situations: diffuse city, rural or suburban sites. In these sites live half of the people, in France as well as Europe. And they don’t get the same level of attention that larger cities can afford. They are, however, places for inventive processes, where new ‘richesses’ appear. The exhibition shows evidence that Architecture provides there innovative solutions: how to supply cheaper and nice housing that the financial economy failed to produce, how to provide comfortable solutions to the poorest part of the population; how to create social links and gather energies and wills around punctual transformation of those familiar neighborhoods, recovering the social and cultural efficiency of commons; how to give more value to know-how, local economy of building, crafts; and so face the global trend of smart processes whose overwhelming regulations scarcely hide the growing power of worldwide companies. How to give back visibility, dignity and wealth (including non monetary values) to those too discrete territories.
Architecture has the occasion not only to improve the ordinary environment we live in, but also to gather different citizens in interactive and collective processes and restaure democratic links. Political comittment goes through architectural transformation. We assume this is a Biennale of Architecture: from a very political statement – and the opportunity given by Aravena to debate – the French pavilion presents architectural facts: interviews of people involved – beyond the architects -, models, maps, pictures and drawings.”
Curators Obras + Ajap14
More information on the different projects can be found in the book and on the website of Nouvelles Richesses. Curator Frédéric Bonnet has also published a book on the theme of urbanism ‘Extension du domaine de l’urbanisme‘ (only available in French).
Review by The Venice Insider
The French pavilion is decorated with oversized pictures of ordinary living situations across all regions in France. The contrast between the size of the pictures and the (un)importance of the areas symbolizes the need to focus on a good quality of life for everyone. This is especially true in these often neglected areas. The images are complemented by drawings and videos of the different projects. The images and some quotes on architecture are presented on moving billboards, which oblige you to stand still and take your time to discover all of them. This smart idea of the team of ‘Nouvelles Richesses’ allows them to define the pace of your visit to the exhibition.
Katia – The Venice Insider
Click here to return to the overview of the other pavilions at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2016 or read my post What to expect from the 2016 Architecture Biennale.
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