The 14th Architecture Biennale is this year being curated by Dutch architect and theorist Rem Koolhaas, who has chosen the title Fundamentals. A total of 65 countries are exhibiting in the historic pavilions spread across the Giardini, the Arsenale, and the city of Venice.
Of these, 10 countries are participating for the first time: Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, New Zealand, and Turkey. Biennale president Paolo Baratta said: “With Rem Koolhaas we have created an exceptional, research-centered Architecture Biennale. Rem has planned an event that involves all of Biennale’s sectors, along with a bevy of researchers.”
Rem Koolhaas describes Fundamentals as an exhibition which looks at histories, tries to reconstruct how architecture finds itself in its current situation, and speculates on its future. It consists of three interlocking exhibitions, each one differing from previous biennale models in key ways.
For the first time, the national pavilions have been invited to respond to a single theme, Absorbing Modernity 1914-2014. All participants will examine key moments from a century of modernisation. Together, the presentations start to reveal how diverse material cultures and political environments have transformed a generic sense of “modernity” into one specific to their country – despite the master narrative of globalisation and homogeneity that has dominated the last century.
In addition Venice’s other biennales and festivals – Dance, Music, Theatre, Film – will collaborate with Architecture in order to look at the idea of Italy as a “fundamental” country, work in the Arsenale and Monditalia will act together to form a comprehensive portrait of the host country.
The final thread, Elements of Architecture, at the Central Pavilions, is the result of a two-year research project with the Harvard Graduate School of Design and collaborations with a host of experts from industry and academia. It looks through a microscope at the fundamentals of our buildings, as used by every architect, anywhere, anytime.
Architecture Biennale, until 23 November, Venice. For more information visit www.labiennale.org.
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1. Arsenale, courtesy of Architecture Biennale.