This year’s architecture biennale in Venice was an accident; it wasn’t my intention to attend. I had planned on spending a few days simply seeing the sights and hunting for graffiti in one of the world’s most classic (and touristic) cities. Then I stumbled into one the European Cultural Centre’s exhibition spaces in Palazzo Mora, where “Time-Space-Existence” took over.
The 2016 Venice biennale includes exhibits by sixty nations and hundreds of individual participants, which seek to address the complexity of artistic, social, political, environmental, and economical factors that architecture must respond to in the modern world.
Most of the exhibits are housed in two main sites called Arsenale and Giardini, but many other smaller venues scattered throughout the city create the impression of moving between worlds: step outside and cross the tourist-trails of Venice, step inside and explore realms of failed dreams and future potentials.
I had never before contemplated the true dimensions of architecture, and was deeply moved by a number of the exhibits and by the overall message, which is neatly captured by event curator Alejandro Aravena as follows:
“We believe that the advancement of architecture is not a goal in itself but a way to improve people’s quality of life. Given life ranges from very basic physical needs to the most intangible dimensions of the human condition, consequently, improving the quality of the built environment is an endeavor that has to tackle many fronts: from guaranteeing very concrete, down-to-earth living standards to interpreting and fulfilling human desires, from respecting the single individual to taking care of the common good, from efficiently hosting daily activities to expanding the frontiers of civilization.”
In the end, it was a fortuitous accident indeed.
The 2016 Architecture biennale runs until November 27th, and more information can be found on the official website.