David Gryn blog

Six Not-to-Miss Shows at the Venice Architecture Biennale – NY Times

In Arcadia Missa, Bauer Hotel, Daata, Daata Editions, Hannah Quinlan, Hettie Judah, New York Times, Rosie Hastings, Uncategorized, Venice Achitectural Biennale, Zuecca Projects on 27/05/2016 at 3:45 pm

The architect Alejandro Aravena, the surprise winner of this year’s Pritzker prize (and subject of a feature by Michael Kimmelman in T’s upcoming issue) wants to pull architectural focus away from starry prestige projects and attention-grabbing landmark buildings. Under Aravena’s direction, this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale will focus on architecture that addresses actual — and often urgent — daily human needs. He views the advancement of architecture not as “a goal in itself but a way to improve people’s quality of life.” Later this week, Aravena’s central exhibition, “Reporting From the Front,” will open alongside national presentations and special projects. Many, including the handful of diverse projects below, offer their own reports from architecture’s many fronts.

A view of historic structures in Sana, Yemen. Credit: Liedwien Scheepers

Yemen

The notion of reporting from the front line is, as its curators point out, “unfortunately directly applicable to the Yemen pavilion.” This modest but important exhibition will focus on the conflict-ravaged country’s vernacular architecture, traditional building techniques and the spectacular ancient structures still standing in the capital, Sana (pictured above). At a moment when the destruction of important ancient structures is the stuff of international headlines, boning up on imperiled world heritage is an urgent imperative.

One of the sites featured in Poland’s exhibition. Credit: Michał Gdak

Poland

Poland eyes a front line that implicates us all, turning the focus of its pavilion to the construction industry and the making of buildings. Following hot on the heels of controversies surrounding labor conditions on high-profile projects including the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum, the pavilion’s theme, “Is Fair Building Possible?” investigates the human cost of architecture. (Above, a photo taken during the process of creating the exhibition.

“Scrutable Landscape Series No. 017,” 2015, a pigment print that highlights the scarcity of space that challenges Korean architecture. Credit: Kyungsub Shin

Korea

FAR stands for Floor Area Ratio — the amount of floor space a building can offer in relation to the size of land it is built upon. It’s a hot topic in Seoul, where architects are driven by the market to optimize their use of space, and struggle to balance this with considerations of quality of life.

Geoff George’s “House Fire,” 2013, is one of 20 postcards depicting Detroit that will be distributed to fair-goers at the United States’ pavilion. Credit: Geoff George

United States

“The Architectural Imagination” offers a dozen exercises in speculative architecture for the city of Detroit. Its curators, Cynthia Davidson and Monica Ponce de Leon, have selected 12 very different architectural practices from around the U.S., each of which spent time in the city’s neighborhoods before proposing projects. While these address the specific needs of Detroit, the curators note that the ideas are relevant to all cities “dealing with empty factories and declining population.” Twenty postcard designs showing Detroit through the eyes of residents and visiting photographers, including the one shown above, will be distributed at the Biennale.

A view of the United Nations’ Camp Castor in Gao, Mali. Credit: Courtesy of Malkit Shoshan

The Netherlands

The curator Malkit Shoshan specializes in the architecture of conflict, and for “Blue,” she focuses on the structures created by the United Nations at Camp Castor in Gao, Mali. “Blue” indicates, on the one hand, the blue helmets of the peacekeeping mission, and on the other, the “blue men” of the Tuareg, in whose region the mission is situated. Shoshan suggests the military camp itself as a permeable cultural location rather than a fortress, and one that brings with it the possibility of positive change.

Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings’s “Centre Stage,” 2016. Credit: Courtesy of the artists & Daata Editions

@Gaybar

The @Gaybar project explores a rather more familiar front line — that of creeping gentrification. The artists Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings document and recreate London’s historic gay bar spaces as they shut down in the face of rapid gentrification. In Venice, they’ll present new film works exploring disappearing LGBTQI spaces in the bar of the Bauer Hotel.

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