I've been lucky to visit Venice for the Art Biennale before, but last month I was happy to return to this magnificent city for a world renowned display of Architectural wonders. I organised this year's trip to the Bathroom and Tile Fair to include this important side visit for some architectural inspo. Running between May and November, the 2018 International Biennale of Architecture carries the title Freespace, and "describes a generosity of spirit and a sense of humanity at the core of architecture's agenda, focusing on the quality of space itself." The exhibition presents a large array of "proposals, elements - built or unbuilt - of work that exemplifies essential qualities of architecture which include the modulation, richness and materiality of surface..." Essentially, some really interesting ideas and striking architecture from around the globe to help inspire and make us consider how we live, and how our spaces should look and feel!
All images by James Treble
A short walk form St Mark's Square, the first big impact is provided by the world pavilions themselves, built in the Giardini over the years starting with the very first art exhibition there in 1895. These are both an example of the architectural language pertinent to each Country they represent, as well as a sample of the building trends and fashion of the time they were commissioned. Each of them make such a statement, with their styles which differ greatly, from classically inspired to richly decorated to minimalist.
I get so damn excited as I walk around and into each pavilion, some of which I'd happily make my home, and inside, each country shares their ideas and concepts in interesting displays.
The new Australian pavilion was only built in 2015, on the last of the available sites in the Giardini and carries an elegant simplicity in its design, while its interior is a very expansive exhibition room. This is perfect for the current display, inspired to the open spaces and the effect these are imposed upon by human constructions and expanding cities.
Taking most of the floor space inside this vast room, are plants from the Western Plains grasslands with over 60 different species. "Only 1% of this plant community remains from pre-European settlement times, having been removed through urbanisation, agriculture, grazing and industrial land use." With wall-projections of environmentally aware projects and light installation, the Australian display at this year's Biennale is called Repair and is very effective in its message, by simply presenting what is displaced when we occupy land (more info here).
The Arsenale is a complex of buildings born as shipyard and armories for the Republic of Venice, created more than one thousand years ago, it's still in use as a naval base and it also hosts some of the Biennale exhibitions. With its massive marble and stone columns, and immense volumes, it competes with the exhibits themselves in beauty and architectural prowess, not to mention the overwhelming play on scale! Throughout these spaces, a range of installations and concepts are displayed as building maquettes, tactile and visual samples from different parts of the world, which inspire and entertain the crowds for hours and hours, which is how long it takes to navigate your way through these expansive spaces.
Evident throughout the entire Biennale this year is the importance given to the relationship between Architecture / Humanity / Environment, but these few words from the curators seem to express so simply, yet so deeply what Architecture in fact should be about: "... we are interested in going beyond the visual, emphasizing the role of architecture in the choreography of daily life."
James Treble is an ambassador for Planet Ark and firmly believes in sensible purchasing, recycling and creative re-purposing. James has decades of accumulated experience in the Building Industry, Real Estate and Interior Design. His knowledge and experience in adding value to homes, through clever design & styling, is now published for all to learn and benefit from: Interior Design For Profit is now available online.