ARCHITECTURE TAKES CENTER STAGE AT THE BIENNALE
A guide to spending unforgettable days at the Architecture Biennale, while brousing its exhibitions.
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.
“FREE” SPACE… NOT “EMPTY” SPACE
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.
A SHORT GUIDE TO THE BIENNALE
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.
Romena Brugnerotto Lifestyle Editor Where® Italia