travelogue - the venice architecture biennale 2010

XXIIth Venice Architecture Biennale

First of all, a new year greeting to everybody - wish you an inspiring year ahead!

At the end of a long holiday after Christmas & New Year for most of us, the urge to plan the year ahead and carry out the plan in reality is probably be in your mind at some point over the past 2 weeks. To make it easy, it's always motivating to start with some travel incentives. Have you planned any art excursions ahead? The following may be useful: the Independent's must-see calendar 2011 for global art events. (If you would like to check out events within the UK, click on this instead)

Visitors in the Giardini

Here is a retrospective of the Venice Architecture Biennale last year, focusing on the British personnel involved. According to the offical website, the event had attracted a record attendance of 170801 visitors, that means over 3 million euro of just entry-ticket sales (full price entry is 20 euro for an adult person). Attendance for its sister Art Biennale in 2009 was 375700, and who knows how much is spent for all the red carpets during the film festival. No wonder Venice can survive the rising sea level - just with its three Biennales!

Architecture Biennale - Kazuyo Sejima in Venice by BiennaleChannel - video link

The British pavilion this year is commissioned by Vicky Richardson, Director of Architecture, Design, Fashion at the British Council and under the direction of muf architecture/art Llp. This is the official information from the British Council, how the commissioning process actually work? We don't have any further information from the page, so we cannot comment on whether the team selected has got the best idea. However, from observation, the British pavilion seems to be the only one who dedicated a significant portion of its exhibition to the host city, Venice, itself. And somehow this Villa Frankenstein (name of the British pavilion, which is also unique among the exhibitors that a name other than the country's name is provided) is quite fascinating indeed.

British humour displayed at the entrance - The Puddle, a concrete-formed pond & some paddington boots aside

Plan of the pavilion

The Stadium of Close Looking - a 1:10 scaled model of the Olympic Stadium for London 2012, designed by muf architecture/art (London) and built by Spazio Legno (Venice) + Atelier One (London)

The Ruskin Wing - showcasing reference materials about the British Victorian social critic & historian of Venetian architecture John Ruskin

The Lagoon - displays illustrating the fragile eco-system in the Venice Lagoon

A 15 sq m. ecologically functioning slice of salt marsh in a tank showing a close‐up view of the native floral and fauna of the Venice Lagoon

You can see from the above, the UK pavilion is a collaboration between Venice and the British team, in terms of concept, contents as well as execution. It is quite an enjoyable and educational exhibition. Apart from the British pavilion, we also found Zaha Hadid's works featured in the Austrian pavilion -

No matter you like her works or not, Zaha Hadid has now truly be recognised around the world such that her architecture is even featured in the pavilion of another country in the Biennale. This is a great achievement for herself and her office. Other british featured in the show are -

Joanna (chapter one), by Cerith Wyn Evans - the neon tube text at the background

Tony Fretton's Piazza Salone with artist Mark Pimlott at the Arsenale

Tony Fretton at the Venice Architecture Biennale by Hugh Pearman - video link

If you would like to learn more about the UK's participation in every Venice Art or Architecture Biennale, check it out at this dedicated website by the British Council. Below are the full photo slide shows of the Biennale in the Arsenale venue, the Giardini venue and across the town.


Further Readings -
Page: Official page for the Venice Architecture Biennale
Review: The sprawling Venice biennale offers frustrations and rewards by Oliver Wainwright for BD magazine, 31.08.2010
Review: RA Magazine Blog: Biennale diary by Kate Goodwin, 03.09.2010
Review: Cerith Wyn Evans at the venice architecture biennale 2010 by erica for designboom, 04.09.2010
Youtube: official youtube channel for the Biennale
Youtube: Hans Ulrich Obrist's series of interviews with all the exhibitors in the Biennale

a dish served with a view

Studio East Dining Tour

Bistrotheque's owner (white shirt in the middle) and Carmody Groarke (on the left crossing his arm) explain the concept and challenges of the pop-up restaurant

Diners' view on the Aqautic Centre & the Olympic Stadium

The special morning viewing tour of Studio East Dining at EWestfield Stratford's pop-up restaurant next to the 2012 Olympic construction site on a very sunny day is a fabulous programme of many other ones in the London Festival of Architecture. 

Carmody Groarke, the designer of the space, talked about how he managed to pick construction waste around to build this within 8 weeks from sketch. The outcome is admirable, although it seems a little bit resembling to Guggenheim Bilbao in its outlook. The interiors is arranged such that each "arm" that stretches out from the centre frame a view to the diners. 

Panorama inside the restaurant - video link

It have a sense of excitement to view the hype of construction in the stagnant economy of London. Perhaps that is the most valuable dish offered by the restaurant - a dose of optimism, in the age of chaos.

Full photo set here

Further Reading -
Official website of the Restaurant

art december in london . part 3

David Chipperfield - Form Matters
Design Museum

Sir David Chipperfield's show is ending tomorrow. If you have not visited yet and enjoy contemporary architecture with a minimal poetic vocabulary, you should not missed the chance to have a look at the English master's impressive display of drawings, photos and models of his works.

Americas Cup Building at Valencia

This video is not part of the exhibits in the show, but it could show how the real building looks -
Model of Anchorage Museum at Alaska

Model display combined with John Morgan's illustration form the main focus in the show

The most impressive project is the Neues Museum in Berlin. Chipperfield has paid due respect to the historic significance of the building, and at the same time create a spatial departure from the past to enable visitors to have a renewed experience of the building. There is an area dedicated to the project -

Drawings are displayed which has documented every detail of the building, new & old construction

Facade language

Site photo

Scaled model

Internal view of the scaled model

Photo of realisation

Scaled model showing the brick construction

And in case you do not know, he is a londoner :)

Full photo set here


Less & More - the Design Ethos of Dieter Rams
Design Museum

'Timeless' seems to be a cliché for design appreciation. Take a look at Dieter Rams's selection of products exhibited in the show, I see nothing more than a dedication to the essence of function and simplicity in the design. Everything he has made for Braun or selected for the show, they look so 'relevant' still even they are produced some 50 years ago.

Dieter Ram's residence

Dieter Ram's residence

Dieter Ram's workshop

I think the reason why they look so 'relevant' is that the design has made it so intuitive you know what the product is for and how it works in your first look. There is no need to figure out where the operating buttons are or which button is for what function. And I guess this is what 'timeless design' means.

 Apart from the products, the exhibition also celebrates the propaganda of them. These posters strip out every possible graphical distraction such as slogans or logos, and give you the product itself as the only focus to appreciate its inner beauty.

This is the toaster in real featured in the poster above

A range of camcorders

Exhibition set

A radio

Full photo set here


Further readings -
Official website of David Chipperfield
Official page of Chipperfield's show at Design Museum
'Building Study - David Chipperfield Architects' Neues Museum, Berlin' by Ellis Woodman for bd magazine, 03.2009 (with video link)
Review from *wallpaper on David Chipperfield - Form Matters, 22.10.2009
'Neues Museum, Berlin' written by David Chipperfield Architects in Collaboration with Julian Harrap, photographed by Candida Höfer, published by Walther König. Available in
Official page of Dieter Ram's show at Design Museum
Wikipedia entry for Dieter Ram
Video clips on Dieter Ram in vimeo
Interview with Dieter Ram by, 10.10.2000