Architects about Venice Biennale 2018

Artdecision  presents   the  opinions  of architects  about  the  « Freespace » Architectural  Biennale  2018

Nikita Yavein, Studio44

This years’ Biennale theme is very broadly stated, you can connect almost anything to the subject. Hence, there are a lot of stairs and empty pavilions which I think denotes a kind of “flattening” of the world, a result of a universal desire to achieve instant success. And this trend towards simplification appears depressing to me.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Biennale of Aravena, there were a lot of moments that I understood well; I believe that only regional schools are worthy of interest now, while the mainstream ones are a bit dull.

Undeniably the most interesting architectural experience is the Swiss pavilion, and I totally support the jury which has awarded them the first prize.  The Japanese Pavilion is always cute, this year with its hand-drawn graphics.


Pavillion of Switzerland, image: Julia Tarabarina, archi. ru

The Renzo Piano exhibition is really interesting. The projects on display are clear and very well-known, but the script and the directing behind the show is genial and creates new feelings; I recommend visiting it to everybody, it’s a fresh new way of demonstrating architecture, although there is much more scenography there than information.

« Renzo Piano.Progetti d’acqua », Fondatione Emilio e Annabianca Vedova. Source: archi. ru


Sergey Kuznetsov, chief architect of Moscow 

From my experience of participating in the Biennale, I believe that the theme offered by the curators is very abstract, and to be honest, the vast majority of the participants hardly follow it. Any exhibition can be tied up to the subject one way or the other. Of course, the curators’ manifesto declares the general trends of architecture today, and shows that the Venice Biennale sets the tone in the world. Nevertheless, all the national pavillions are made by the curators the way they see fit. As a result, we have interesting installations which are more tied to current events in the countries that take part in the Biennale, than to the general theme.

I agree with the choice made by the international jury and I think that Switzerland and the United Kingdom have presented the best pavillions. The English have presented the theme of this year (freespace) literally, they left empty space inside, but have erected an observational rooftop with magnificent views onto the Giardini gardens and the lagoon.

Pavillion of the United Kindom, image: Julia Tarabarina, archi. ru
Pavillion of the United Kindom, roof top, image: Irina Vernichenko, artdecision. eu

The Swiss had an element of a game, they demonstrated how different dimensions of living quarters can be. I can also name the Dutch, I really liked their pavillion.


Dutch pavillion, image: Julia Tarabarina, archi. ru

I think that it is only right to invite bright, interesting curators. Architects should see the entire exposition to understand which direction the whole thing is going. And this is the main task of the Biennale. Architects visit it, take note that things can be done this way, or that way, and then use it in their work.


Natalia Sidorova and Daniel Lorentz, DNK ag

The Swiss Pavillion’s concept of playing with scale is simple. Quality implementation and attention to detail, including the size of parquet boards and door handles made the actual experience very convincing.  Also interesting was the Japanese Pavillion with various formats and techniques of art graphic on urban spaces.  It is something to stare at for a long time.

From the Vatican chapel exhibition I liked the mirror bench and cross by Carla Juacaba. There you saw pure artistic expression and precise technical execution. Supporting beams made of concrete bring about an association of railway sleepers of a never-ending road in infinite space. That was the work that most fully reflected the theme of free space.

Carla Juacaba, Vatican Chapel, image: Irina Vernichenko,


Vladimir Kuzmin, Pole-design studio 

Do the exhibitions fully reflect the theme of the Biennale? Perhaps they do, insofar as it appeals to such a global term like “freedom.” “Free space” is understood as wide as possible, from a literal emptiness to detailed projects of “liberation” of spaces: of their functions, characteristics, of materials and formation technologies.

My absolute favourite is the Swiss Pavillion! The real game with the physical scale of living spaces and their scales impressed me, and forced me to literally to feel the “effect of Alice.” I also like the Dutch Pavillion – Orange cells with “secrets” in them, and behind them. Also appealing were the Giant “bubbles” in the Pavillion of the Scandinavian countries. The Blue podium-amphitheater in the Belgian Pavillion exhibited a virtual “window in the universe” in the Hall of Venice.

Pavillion of Finlandia, Norvegia, Svezia, image: Irina Vernichenko,


Michael Beilin, Citizen studio 

The first Pavillion that I saw was the Swiss Pavillion. It remained the most striking, interesting and elegant.  I spent most of the time in the main Pavillion of the Biennale, which was my major impression. I think it was all about texts, not images. It was an incredible pleasure to read all of this. I especially liked the exposition dedicated to Luigi Dominioni of whom I had never heard before.

I very much liked the breadth of the “free space” interpretation. The exhibition is much less geared towards social aspects as compared to the theme of the previous Biennale “reports from the front” of 2016. And, in my opinion, this year is much more devoted to architectural research, including in the past. To simply put it “free space”  is, generally speaking, everything that surrounds us. This Biennale is about architecture as a whole, which is rather original in my opinion.

The Biennale is always interesting. It allows the indescribable pleasure of diving into architecture as a science and pure art which is lacking in everyday life. And  pleasure of reading text descriptions to the exhibitions in Giardini and Arsenal. In lieu of a quite a bit of professional literature.

Pavillion of Belgium, image Julia Tarabarina, archi. ru

Source: with permission

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