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Walking on purportedly common ground
by Thomas Wagner | 9/3/2012

The 13th edition of the Venice Architecture Biennale is again a huge glittering kaleidoscope. It dissects more or less everything that currently has to do with construction, space and the city into a greater or smaller number of aspects – both in the Giardini with the Palazzo delle Esposizioni and the country pavilions and in the Arsenale and the various pavilions scattered around town.

What do architects do and what drives them in the process?
Where do they come against their limits?
Is their primary task to build new houses?
Should they concentrate more on maintaining, optimizing and re-using existing buildings?
Do buildings consume energy or can they produce it?
Is there a new architecture from below?
Can megacities even be planned?
What can we learn from other architectural cultures?
What political structures does architecture have to tackle?
Is public space increasingly becoming commercial space and what can be done to stop this?
Do projects that arise spontaneously change public and private spaces more than complex construction projects with their long planning lead times and difficult decision-making processes?
Must architects see themselves more as a collective than hitherto?
Can the forms of cooperation practiced at present counteract the tendency to isolation?

A truly dizzying number of questions and the list goes on. David Chipperfield, as Director of the Architecture Biennale and thus responsible for the central exhibition, therefore set out to tempt his colleagues onto common ground and encourage them to open their minds to the pending issues. Yet, those in the business evidently were not able to reach agreement so easily on what we should understand as the shared ground, the foundations of all building. What is certain, however, is that there are many projects, concepts, models, installations and images to admire in Venice, and that they point to some common ground even when this is simply not to be seen in the one or other project taking the limited angle of the common visitor.

13th Architecture Biennale Venice 2012
through November 25
www.labiennale.org

Improved façade instead of a noble entrance: “The Politics of Bricolage“, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark
Improved façade instead of a noble entrance: “The Politics of Bricolage“, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark
Wooden skyline at the Canadian Pavilion: “Migrating Landscapes”, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark
Intense debate on the topic of Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie: Herzog & de Meuron at the Arsenale, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark
The historical derivation of organoid forms: Zaha Hadid, “Arum “, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark
A restaurant from Caracas: Urban-Think Tank (Alfredo Brillembourg, Hubert Klumpner) and Justin McGuirk, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark
Taking a rest at the Brazilian pavilion: Lucio Costa’s installation “Riposatevi“ from 1964, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark
In Venice, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark
New possibilities of vegetable planting: from SPAINLab at the Giardini, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark
Architectural structure behind the Arsenale: Álvaro Siza Vieira and Eduardo Souto Moura, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark
Triple “R“ for Germany: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle by Muck Petzet and Konstantin Grcic, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark
Careful handling of the past: Mexico restores the Venetian Chiesa di San Lorenzo, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark
Create a model by yourself: “40,000 Hours“, a project by students of different architecture schools, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark
Art meets architecture: “Modellstudiengang“ by Thomas Demand together with Martin Boyce and Thomas Scheibitz, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark
When infrastructure becomes urban living space: An Urban Recreation Project by studio Jean Nouvel and Habiter Autrement, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark
Irritations caused by marginal room changes: “Making the walls quake as if they were dilating with the secret knowledge of great powers” at the Polish pavilion, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark
Postcard from the architect: stamps with architecture motives at the Romanian pavilion, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark
Using the space between buildings in a different way: proposals at Angola’s pavilion at the Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark
Interlude with deserted cities: Thomas Struth, “Unconscious Places“, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark
David Chipperfield’s motto of the Biennale: “Common Ground“, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark
Apartheid and AIDS: realized by Noero Architects together with the Keiskamma Trust and a women’s cooperative from Hamburg, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark
The common ground of architecture: View of the Corderie des Arsenale, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark
Quotation from Lucio Costa’s installation “Riposatevi”, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark
Show me your model and show me your love for Spain: Luis-Fernández-Galiano, Francisco Mangado, Mansilla + Tunón, Nieto Sobejano, Paredes Pedrosa and RCR Arquitectes, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark
The discursive basis of architecture: Steve Parnell, architecture magazines, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark
How to reconstruct a landscape: Miyato-Jima Reconstruction Project, Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark
Green even greener… Or “Made in Italy” from Adriano Olivetti to green economy: “Le quattro stagioni“ at the new Padiglione Italia at the Arsenale, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark
Importing new ideas: the pavilion of the United Kingdom, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark
Altars for architecture: The critical project by Crimson Architectural Historians at the Padiglione Centrale, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark
Look through the keyhole: Russian pavilion at the Giardini, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark
Diving into the Augmented Reality of Russia: Russian pavilion at the Giardini, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark
Several illuminated keyholes: Russian pavilion at the Giardini, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark
Designs for a better world: Domenico Silvestro at the Venezuelan pavilion, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark
Eight stories for a new Athens: Entrance of the Greek pavilion, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark
Veil and iPad: In the streets of Venice, photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark