Venice Biennale Architettura 2018: everything you need to know about the 16th edition

Venice Biennale Architettura 2018: everything you need to know about the 16th edition

For years an international point of reference for architects and industry enthusiasts, the 16th edition of the Venice Biennale Architettura is open to the public until 25 November. It will be hosted in the Giardini, where the Central Pavilion is located, the Arsenale and in Venice's historic city centre.

This year's theme, "Freespace", celebrates the need for free and open space and the importance of architecture in providing for the well-being and dignity of every person, a topic that is also very dear to Corradi, always looking for innovative and customised solutions for every need.

So let's take a look at the programme, participants and the new developments of this Biennale Architettura 2018.

The curators of Biennale Architettura 2018

The curators of the 16th International Architecture Exhibition are two Irish architects, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, partners of the Dublin-based architectural firm Grafton Architects. The two architects (Silver Lion in 2012 for the work plan at the Utec campus of the University of Lima in Peru) are known in Italy for the design of the new Bocconi University in Milan, featuring a large window at the entrance that creates a dialogue between the internal structure and the surrounding space. During the press conference, Farrell and McNamara presented the Manifesto they chose for this edition of the Biennale Architettura, Freespace.

Freespace: a generous and more human architecture

The 2018 theme is an homage to the quality of places and the need for a space that is open and freely accessible by people, as underlined by the President of the Biennale, Paolo Baratta.

The aim of this edition is to emphasise the importance of architecture in society as an important link between people and space. The underlying message of Freespace will in fact be the concept of the "gift" that architecture can bestow on the city, providing spaces full of opportunities that are flexible, democratic and unplanned. The universe of construction fuses with the world of imagination where it is possible to conceive new functions and ways of sharing in already existing places and buildings. The façade of a building, a new public space and an architectural detail become a manifestation of the "generosity of spirit and sense of humanity" that architecture must focus on in order to better meet people's needs. In fact, the debate at this edition of the Biennale will centre on the investigation of the relationship between civil society and architecture and the serious lack of public spaces that reduces the well-being of citizens.

Biennale Architettura 2018: the participants

There are 71 participants at this edition, carefully selected for their projects' consistency with the Freespace Manifesto, by names that are both known and less known in the industry. These 71 are then joined by elements of two special sections: Close Encounter, meetings with remarkable projects, an analysis of famous projects of the past, and The Practice of Teaching, a reflection on the role of teaching to ensure the continuity of architecture.

Also worthy of note is the presence of six countries present for the first time at the Biennale, alongside the other 63 nations represented: Antigua & Barbuda, Saudi Arabia, Guatemala, Lebanon, Pakistan and the Vatican with a pavilion on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore.

As for Italy, the national pavilion named "Arcipelago Italia" located at Tese delle Vergini in the Arsenale is promoted by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism and is curated by the architect and designer Mario Cucinella.

Side Events and Special Projects

Like every year, institutions and international organisations offer their own Side Events set up inside exhibitions in the centre of Venice and in conjunction with the Biennale.

In addition to these side events, there are two Special Projects at this 2018 edition:

  • The Forte Marghera Special Project based in Mestre - an installation by the architects Sami Rintala and Dagur Eggertsson.
  • The Special Project at the Pavilion of Applied Arts in the Arsenal's Arms Rooms - a snapshot of the Robin Hood Gardens residential complex in London and a reflection on the phenomenon of social housing.

Throughout Biennale Architettura 2018 there will also be a busy calendar of conversations called Meetings on Architecture organised by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara to examine the different interpretations of Freespace by the participants in the exhibition.

Awards and inauguration

The awards ceremony of the 16th International Architecture Exhibition took place during its inauguration on Saturday, 26 May at Ca' Giustinian (home of the Biennale). During the ceremony, the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement was awarded to Kenneth Frampton of England, architecture critic, theoretician and professor at Columbia University in New York. This award is a declaration of the central importance of teaching in conveying the fundamental values of architecture and defining its role within civil society.

The expectations for Biennale Architettura 2018 are high, considering the importance and complexity of the theme chosen as its Manifesto. Freespace is an invitation to invent and reinvent, to come up with new architectural solutions that are able to provide for the well-being of those who live within its spaces. A goal - improving people's lives by combining functionality and beauty - that Corradi has been pursuing for years.

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