A guide to spen­ding un­for­get­ta­ble days at the Ar­chi­tec­tu­re Bien­na­le, whi­le brou­sing its ex­hi­bi­tions.

Where Venice - - Contents - BY RO­ME­NA BRU­GNE­ROT­TO

Al­thou­gh the Art Bien­na­le is one of the ol­de­st in the world – it's been sta­ged in Ve­ni­ce sin­ce 1887 – the Ar­chi­tec­tu­re Bien­na­le was on­ly esta­bli­shed in 1975 as an ex­ten­sion of the Vi­sual Arts Sec­tor. The fir­st In­ter­na­tio­nal Ar­chi­tec­tu­re Ex­hi­bi­tion was or­ga­ni­zed in 1980. Over the years, the In­ter­na­tio­nal Ex­hi­bi­tion was cu­ra­ted by fa­mous ar­chi­tec­ts and in­du­stry ex­perts in­clu­ding Francesco Dal Co, Ri­chard Bur­dett, David Chip­per­field, Rem Koo­lhaas and Ale­jan­dro Ara­ve­na, ma­king the Ar­chi­tec­tu­re Bien­na­le one of the mo­st pre­sti­gious and im­por­tant sec­tor-re­la­ted ex­hi­bi­tions in the world, a re­fe­ren­ce point for ex­perts and afi­cio­na­dos.

Vi­si­ting the Bien­na­le and its ex­hi­bi­tions, an eclec­tic mix­tu­re of world­li­ness and

cul­tu­re, is an event that ma­ny peo­ple ha­ve heard about and would li­ke to at­tend at lea­st on­ce in their li­fe­ti­me. It's not ne­ces­sa­ry to ha­ve kno­w­led­ge of ar­chi­tec­tu­re. What coun­ts is a spi­rit of cu­rio­si­ty and an abi­li­ty to go along wi­th the pro­vo­ca­ti­ve ideas of­fe­red by the ar­tists par­ti­ci­pa­ting in the event.

The ope­ning weeks boa­st a cor­nu­co­pia of inau­gu­ra­tions and par­ties de­di­ca­ted to the ce­le­bra­tion of con­tem­po­ra­ry ar­chi­tec­ts. Be­fo­re set­ting out, ma­ke a li­st of un­mis­sa­ble hi­ghlights, be­cau­se, de­pen­ding on the ti­me avai­la­ble, you might on­ly be able to see a frac­tion of what's on of­fer. Ho­we­ver, now that the ini­tial hor­des of afi­cio­na­dos ha­ve

left, and Ita­lians ha­ve go­ne to the sea­si­de, Ju­ly is the per­fect ti­me to vi­sit the Ar­chi­tec­tu­re Bien­na­le.


Yvon­ne Far­rell and Shel­ley McNa­ma­ra are the cu­ra­tors of this year's ex­hi­bi­tion. The two ar­chi­tec­ts are the foun­ders of Graf­ton Ar­chi­tec­ts, whi­ch won the pre­sti­gious World Buil­ding of the Year award in 2008 wi­th their pro­ject for the Università Lui­gi Boc­co­ni buil­ding in Mi­lan.

The ex­hi­bi­tion will be ho­sted at the cen­tral pa­vi­lion of the Giar­di­ni and at the Cor­de­rie of the Arsenale, and will fea­tu­re the pro­jec­ts of

71 ar­chi­tec­ts from all over the world, and 65 national pa­vi­lions in­clu­ding se­ven coun­tries par­ti­ci­pa­ting for the fir­st ti­me at the Ar­chi­tec­tu­re Bien­na­le: An­ti­gua and Bar­bu­da, Sau­di Ara­bia,

Gua­te­ma­la, Le­ba­non, Mon­go­lia, Pa­ki­stan and the Ho­ly See.

The the­me cho­sen by the cu­ra­tors is Free­spa­ce: a word that de­scri­bes a ge­ne­ro­si­ty of spi­rit and a sen­se of hu­ma­ni­ty at the co­re of ar­chi­tec­tu­re's agen­da, fo­cu­sing on the qua­li­ty of spa­ce itself, di­splay­ing works that exem­pli­fy the es­sen­tial qua­li­ties of ar­chi­tec­tu­re, in­clu­ding the mo­du­la­tion, rich­ness and ma­te­ria­li­ty of sur­fa­ce, and the or­che­stra­tion and se­quen­cing of mo­ve­ment, re­vea­ling the em­bo­died power and beau­ty of ar­chi­tec­tu­re.


The­re are two of­fi­cial ex­hi­bi­tion si­tes: the Giar­di­ni and the Arsenale, two tru­ly uni­que pla­ces. The Giar­di­ni be­cau­se ea­ch coun­try par­ti­ci­pa­ting at the ex­po­si­tion has its own pa­vi­lion de­si­gned by a re­no­w­ned ar­chi­tect (the pa­vi­lions alo­ne de­ser­ve a se­pa­ra­te vi­sit), and the Arsenale be­cau­se you'll be step­ping in­to one of the mo­st im­por­tant pla­ces in the hi­sto­ry

of the Re­pu­blic of Ve­ni­ce, the for­mer mi­li­ta­ry doc­kyards whe­re the boa­ts that ma­de the Se­re­nis­si­ma fa­mous for its tra­de wi­th the Ea­st we­re built.

The or­ga­ni­zers of the Ve­ni­ce Bien­na­le of­fer

dif­fe­rent ty­pes of tic­ke­ts: for­get about vi­si­ting the Giar­di­ni and the Arsenale in ju­st one day.

It's ad­vi­sa­ble to opt for a mul­ti-en­try tic­ket so that you can en­joy the experience to the full wi­thout ex­hau­sting your­self.

Be­fo­re set­ting out, ma­ke su­re that you're well

equip­ped: ha­ve a lar­ge break­fa­st and bring bot­tled wa­ter and so­me­thing to snack on, li­ke fruit or dried fruit. If you suf­fer from low blood pres­su­re, a few sticks of li­co­ri­ce are al­so wi­se. On­ce you get the­re, food isn't a pro­blem be­cau­se bo­th lo­ca­tions of­fer well-equip­ped ca­te­ring areas, in­clu­ding bars and restaurants. Avoid ea­ting at 1pm, the set ti­me for lun­ch in Ita­ly. Plan on spen­ding at lea­st 4 hours at ea­ch lo­ca­tion. This will gi­ve you ti­me to sit do­wn when you're ti­red of wal­king and al­low you to ei­ther en­joy so­me re­spi­te from the heat or wat­ch a video in­stal­la­tion. If you ha­ve any que­stions about the works di­splayed, and you're bound to ha­ve ma­ny, don't he­si­ta­te to ask for help from ei­ther the pa­vi­lion as­si­stan­ts or other mem­bers of staff car­ry­ing IPads and wea­ring ‘ask me' T-shirts.

Ad­di­tio­nal­ly, gui­ded tours de­si­gned to en­han­ce your viewing experience are avai­la­ble on a dai­ly ba­sis. If you're in sear­ch of a per­so­nal guide, ask your con­cier­ge.

Pho­to © An­drea Avez­zù. Cour­te­sy of La Bien­na­le di Ve­ne­zia.

Ro­me­na Bru­gne­rot­to Li­fe­sty­le Edi­tor Whe­re® Ita­lia

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