Monday, September 3, 2012

Venice Architecture Biennale – Common Ground

By Teresa Simon
Photography: Courtesy Foster & Partners

Photography: Paolo Rosselli

The 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale sports two distinctive curatorial spaces by acclaimed architect Norman Foster.

As you pass through the first gallery within the Corderie at Arsenale, en route to this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale, you are transported to a different world of imagery that can be termed the ‘black box experience’.

Black Box Experience                                                                                                                                   Photography: Carlos Carcas

The theme of the Architecture Biennale 2012 is “Common Ground” and acclaimed architect Norman Foster, known for his aesthetically and technologically groundbreaking projects highlighting dynamic ecological concepts, initiates intellectual thought via two distinctively curated spaces.

Black Box Experience                                                                                                                                   Photography: Carlos Carcas

Firstly, in words, as a body of knowledge represented by the names of generations of architects, critics, designers, landscape architects and planners, who from antiquity till date, have influenced the urban world. Titled ‘Gateway’, the installation has visitors enter via symmetrical ramps into an immersive space, in which the floor and audience are washed by projected words, white on black and constantly in motion. On the walls of the space, projections of huge, rapidly changing images flash above the heads of the audience in an installation by filmmaker Carlos Carcas. They range from the historic spaces of the western world to the booming new cities of Asia and South America, as well as the favelas, which are an inseparable part of these emerging urbanities. The fusion of names and images are accompanied by a background soundtrack specifically composed for the installation.

Black Box Experience                                                                                                                                   Photography: Carlos Carcas

Secondly, through images, which show communal gathering spaces that bring us all together socially, outside or inside buildings. This is curated and executed at the Central Pavilion in Giardini, where an exhibition focuses on the plaza below the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank tower as a gathering space. There were several early design variations for the Bank, which culminated in the final scheme, completed in 1985. The common denominator from the outset was a civic space created by lifting the building up to ensure a flow of pedestrian movement across the site.

Black Box Experience                                                                                                                                   Photography: Carlos Carcas

Through models, sketches, drawings and photographs, the exhibition shows the evolution of the design of this public space and the tower that defines it, culminating in a photograph of the building by the artist Andreas Gursky. On Sundays, this space is transformed into an outpost of the Philippines, as hundreds of maids establish a community, with an extraordinary variety of social activities and intimate spaces created by cardboard walls. This aspect of the Bank is also explored in the work of artist Marisa Gonzalez. The triptych painting of the banking hall by Ben Johnson complements the view of the plaza from above by the photographer John Nye.

HSBC Bank Glass Floor                                                                                                                                        Photography:  John Nye

Both installations have been made possible by the Norman Foster Foundation and Ivorypress.

HSBC Bank Venice                                                                                                                                        Photography: Carlos Carcas

HSBC Bank Venice                                                                                                                                   Photography: Carlos Carcas

The Exhibition designed by architectural doyen David Chipperfield is spread over 10.000 square meters in a path from the Central Pavilion at the Giardini to the Arsenale. The exhibition showcases original proposals and installations expressly created for this Biennale, by 119 participants.

HSBC Bank sketch by Norman Foster in 1982

Venues, dates and opening times:
Venice, Giardini and Arsenale, from 29th August to 25th November 2012
Opening times: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Closed on Mondays (except September 3rd and November 19th, 2012)
For more information:

1 comment :

  1. When most professionals his age are content to retire into oblivion, this great mans passion for his work only grows stronger...well done Sir NF
    In response to IAnD's discussion thread: How does an architectural Biennale feature as an important milestone in the career of an architect?


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