Fundamentals - 14th International Architecture Biennale

The 14th International Architecture Biennale in Venice will start this month, from 7th June and will go on till 23rd November 2014. 

Sixty six countries are be taking part, including three countries from the Gulf - Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. The UAE will make its debut at the Architecture Biennale this year, along with nine other countries (Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, New Zealand and Turkey). Expect a separate post about the UAE Pavilion later this week. 

This year’s edition is titled Fundamentals, directed by Rem Koolhaas who wants this biennale to be research-centered, about architecture and not architects. Fundamentals will consist of three interlocking exhibitions, Elements of ArchitectureAbsorbing Modernity 1914-2014 and Monditalia.  

Absorbing Modernity 1914-2014, Elements of Architecture and Monditalia – together illuminate the past, present and future of our discipline. After several architecture Biennales dedicated to the celebration of the contemporary, Fundamentals will look at histories, attempt to reconstruct how architecture finds itself in its current situation, and speculate on its future.

Here's an overview of the Architecture Biennale and you can read more more details below. Look out for the embarrassing slide where "Middle East" is listed as a country.

More information about the three interlocking exhibitions: 

Elements of Architecture in the Central Pavilion 

Elements of Architecture will pay close attention to the fundamentals of our buildings, used by any architect, anywhere, anytime: the floor, the wall, the ceiling, the roof, the door, the window, the façade, the balcony, the corridor, the fireplace, the toilet, the stair, the escalator, the elevator, the ramp.





Traditional architectural elements – the ceiling and the window, but also even the façade – now belong to advanced technological domains, yet the fundamental elements of architecture endure, albeit in sometimes radically different forms. By looking at the evolution of architectural elements shared by all cultures, the exhibition will expand the architectural discourse beyond its normal parameters, and include a broad public in an exploration of the familiar, the erased, and the visionary dimensions of architecture.

Absorbing Modernity: 1914-2014 at the National Pavilions 

In 1914, it made sense to talk about a 'Chinese' architecture, a 'Swiss' architecture, an 'Indian' architecture. One hundred years later, under the influence of wars, diverse political regimes, different states of development, national and international architectural movements, individual talents, friendships, random personal trajectories, and technological developments, architectures that were once specific and local have become seemingly interchangeable and global. Has national identity been sacrificed to modernity?





Absorbing Modernity: 1914-2014 is an invitation to the national pavilions to show, each in their own way, the process of the erasure of national characteristics in architecture in favor of the almost universal adoption of a single modern language and a single repertoire of typologies – a more complex process than we typically recognize, involving significant encounters between cultures, technical inventions, and hidden ways of remaining 'national'. In a time of ubiquitous google research and the flattening of cultural memory, it is crucial for the future of architecture to resurrect and expose these narratives.

By telling the history of the last 100 years cumulatively, the exhibitions in the National Pavilions will generate a global overview of architecture’s evolution into a single, modern aesthetic, and at the same time uncover within globalization the survival of unique national features and mentalities that continue to exist and flourish even as international collaboration and exchange intensify…

Monditalia at theArsenale 

Monditalia dedicates the Arsenale to a single theme – Italy – with exhibitions, events, and theatrical productions engaging architecture, politics, economics, religion, technology, industry. The other festivals of la Biennale di Venezia – film, dance, theatre, and music – will be mobilized to contribute to a comprehensive portrait of the host country.


MONDITALIA: Corderie dell'Arsenale


MONDITALIA: Corderie dell'Arsenale

In a moment of crucial political transformation, we decided to look at Italy as a 'fundamental' country, completely unique but showing certain features – particularly the coexistence of immense riches, creativity, competences, and potential combined with political turbulence – that also make it a prototype of the current moment.

Throughout the Corderie, exhibitions and a series of theatrical productions and events will unfold, engaging architecture, politics, economics, religion, technology, industry. Each one could leave a physical trace in the form of sets, objects, written material, projections, or the extended presence of people. The Corderie would be imagined as a multidisciplinary work in progress, constantly evolving and on permanent display, with varying degrees of activity and varying scales of productions taking place in its different sections.

I leave you with a behind the scenes look at the biennale preparation. I've never been to the Architecture biennale and this one sounds like it will be a good one. I hope I get a chance to visit it. More posts about the biennale coming up later this week.