Since I talked about the Biennale in general and the winning pavilion (Spain) in my last post, I will now discuss the central pavilion located in the middle of the Giardini and surrounded by national pavilions.
After visiting several pavilions, it was time for me to see the main exhibition: Reporting form the Front from Alejandro Aravena, a Chilean architect, in the Biennale pavilion. I thought I would be able to walk quickly through and see everything in the exhibition, but the introductory room stopped me on my tracks and caught my full attention. It is one big round and dark room where the curator reused 100 tons of waste material that had been previously used at the Art Biennale in Venice 2015. They recycled 10,000 m² of plaster board and 14 km of metal.
Already impressed I continued walking to the next room to find myself standing in front of a huge brick and cement structure. Designed by Solando Benítez, Floria Cabral and Solanito Benítez, this sculpture presents a singular character of Latin American architecture. Bricks are very versatile, cheap and easy to manufacture and also marginalized areas of the world can afford to build houses with brick. The structure appears to defy gravity while demonstrating the power of these materials. It won the Golden Lion for best participant in the exhibition, Reporting from the Front, for “harnessing simple materials, structural ingenuity and unskilled labor to bring architecture to underserved communities.” The construction is like a second entrance to the exhibition hall from which you can go into all the different tiny rooms to explore the other art projects, but for me, it was the most impressive artwork from the whole exhibition.
Materials are a big part of the projects, like bamboo, glass or mud to show their variety and demonstrate different angles of the material like the strength of the bamboo presented in the project from the Colombian architect Simon Vélez. He shows various models for houses with a bamboo construction.
The exhibition includes 88 participants form 37 different countries. 50 of them are showing their works for the first time and 33 architects are under 40 years old. Another important subject in the exhibition is immigration and the growth of cities. There you can find projects about housing and city development.
After getting tired after observing all the projects you will get waken up in the second-to-last room. The reason for this is the bright pink walls from the next project. This is Richard Rogers’ (a British architect) favorite color and his project is about saving the city through policy changes, improved public spaces and mass produced houses. The models are shown on blue tables so you get quite a lot of color there.
In the last room before you go to the shop you will find a room devoted to Renzo Piano, an Italian architect. A didactic process is key to his work. This is expressed through the table and chairs in the center of the room where conversations and planning can take place.
Reporting from the Front is for a broad audience and will open your mind with all their artworks facing issues like housing, migration, traffic, pollution, access to sanitation and the participation of communities. It was very impressive to walk through the exhibition halls with an open mind and after that you will see architecture and cities in a different light.