The 2016 Architecture Biennale is halfway, so you still have 3 months to explore the pavilions in Giardini, Arsenale and the Venice city center. When you think about an architecture exhibition, architectural models are one of the first things that come to your mind. They often give you an immediate feeling for the end result of a project. They can also be the trigger to read and discover all the other materials in the exhibition, … or not. I have seen many varieties at this Architecture Biennale, ranging from very small to extra-large models and from very detailed designs to rough sketches. In this post, I give you an overview of those models which intrigued me most during my visit. If you want more information on the exhibitor, don’t forget to click on the title.
LAN (Giardini – Pavilion Reporting from the Front)
You could easily spend an hour or more looking at these 2 large models in Giardini. The first one is an urban renovation project in Lormont (France). It is kind of a ‘surprise’ model, similar to an advent calendar with small gifts. Behind each window, there is a lot of action going on. You will see parties, fights as well as some more explicit scenes. The model is completely white with cut-out figures, which gives it an abstract dimension.
The second model is a representation of a site in Bègles. The interiors are beautifully designed with lots of details, such as furniture and accessories. The model looks so real that it could even be used to rent or sell these apartments. You could easily imagine living there. On the wall, you see the pictures of the residents together with some information about their daily life. I found it very interesting to find out who lives in which interior.
Play for Real – 51N4E (Arsenale – Pavilion Reporting from the Front)
I might be a little bit biased regarding this model, but I really loved the awkward design of this tower in Albania. At the bottom, it starts as a circle which opens up the public space at the street level. At the top, the tower is square to increase the occupancy at these more expensive levels, which can then be sold at a higher price. The Belgian team also took the opportunity to introduce building codes in a country where these were not yet existent. You can find more information on this challenge in the book ‘How things meet’ from 51N4E, Falma Fshazi and Stefano Graziani.
Matrex – Bernaskoni (Arsenale – Pavilion Reporting from the Front)
This is one of the models which impressed me not only by its size, but also by its sheer simplicity. The Skolkovo Innovation Centre in Moscow combines a – truncated – pyramid with a typical Russian Matryoshka inside. The pyramid houses offices and a museum, while the Matryoshka is used for events. It’s a simple, but very beautiful design by Bernaskoni. You can read more about this concept, which consists of three parts (the Matryoshka, the Matrex building and the pyramid), in the book ‘Matrex’ or in the special issue of ‘The Art Newspaper Russia’.
Neubau – Bel Sozietät für Architektur (Arsenale – Pavilion Reporting from the Front)
This huge, blue model strategically blocks the entrance to the next room of the Arsenale, so you are obliged to walk around it and take a look at it. Even though it is not related to the exhibition on ‘Arrival Cities’ in the German pavilion, it does tackle the same topic of immigration and the need for affordable housing for immigrants. By 2026, the housing shortage in the German metropolitan regions will amount to around four million affordable dwellings. The Neubau model shows four speculative self-build cities, which represent a further development of the project ‘Grundbau und Siedler’ that was implemented in Hamburg. Take your time to look closer into each of the areas. You will discover some unexpected elements, such as a circus with elephants.
Punta della Dogana – Tadao Ando Architect & Associates (Arsenale – Pavilion Reporting from the Front)
As a Venice lover, I can of course not skip the model on a scale of 1/30 of Venice and of Punta della Dogana. Tadao Ando created this model especially for this Architecture Biennale, together with a group of college students. One of the intriguing elements are the two columns next to the entrance of the museum. These have not been built, so I had never seen these before. Ando wanted to add these columns as part of the renovation to symbolize the new era of Punta della Dogana. After long discussions with the government, he finally got the permission to build them. However, during the construction, they found some underground city infrastructure on that exact location. Due to the time constraints, it was no longer possible to make changes to the plan. If you want to know more about the renovation project, you will find plenty of details and lots of beautiful pictures in the book ‘Tadao Ando Venice: The Pinault Collection at the Palazzo Grassi and the Punta Della Dogana’.
Hilariopolis – ADNBA (Arsenale – Pavilion Reporting from the Front)
I have to admit that this large white model didn’t really attract my interest at the beginning. However, after one of the (free) guides of the Architecture Biennale explained me the background, it all made sense. The model is a reaction against dullness in mediocre real estate in Romania. It has a lot of ‘out of the box’ thinking and proposals. You will notice for instance a staircase that completely divides a house from top to bottom, or an attic where everything is stored in nicely designed boxes. The book with the details about each of these proposals is available at the exhibition, so it might be good to take a look into it to better understand the concept. Alternatively, you can also ask some explanation to one of the guides.
Everyday Architecture Re: Made in Taiwan (Palazzo delle Prigioni, Castello 4209)
The pavilion of Taiwan is located on the first floor of the Palazzo delle Prigioni, next to the Bridge of Sighs. The rooms show large models with contemporary housing in Taiwan. Some of these houses are typical Asian, while others could easily be located anywhere in Europe or the United States. This exhibition can be visited for free and you don’t need a ticket of the Architecture Biennale. This makes it very easy to drop in when you’re wandering around the historical city center.
Future Islands – New Zealand pavilion (Palazzo Bollani, Castello 3647)
The smallest models are without any doubt those presented in the New Zealand pavilion. The white models on white islands in a white room give the whole thing a very special atmosphere. The models represent a wide variety of projects that make some kind of proposition about the future. Some of these have already been realized, while others are planned or purely speculative. They have been grouped onto different types of islands, such as the ‘Making islands’, ‘Suburban islands’ or ‘Islands of prospect and refuge’.
One of the speculative projects on the ‘Trading islands’ is a lighthouse in Awaroa Bay. It is not only intended as a marine warning system, but it also records tectonic movement, seismic noise and electromagnetic waves. One of the projects which has been realized is the Lego School, which you can find on the ‘Islands of knowing’. After the school was built, small children completed the façade with a whole range of monsters and aliens. All projects are described in detail in the book ‘Future Islands’, which is available at the exhibition.
The New Zealand pavilion still continues to surprise me and is one of my favorite exhibitions of this Architecture Biennale. You can read more on this and on my other favorites in my post ’12 exhibitions you cannot miss at the 2016 Architecture Biennale’.
There are of course plenty of other beautiful models and pavilions at the 2016 Architecture Biennale. If you are interested, I suggest you continue reading on my page dedicated to the Biennale by following this link. The exhibitions end on November 27, so you still have plenty of time to discover it. If you want to completely immerge yourself into this topic, you could order the catalogue of the 2016 Architecture Biennale online. The 668 pages of text and images weigh quite heavily, so you might want to leave the carrying up to the postman instead of dragging it in your luggage. Many pavilions have also published a book for this occasion. You can find these in the preview of each pavilion.
If you are planning a visit to the Architecture Biennale and would like to discover Venice at the same time, I would be more than happy to help you. Click here to find out how you can make your trip more fascinating.
Enjoy your visit!
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