Venice Biennale opens next week

Those dreaming of sunnier climes and fantastic design and architecture could do worse than to jet off to the Venice Biennale (or la Biennale di Venezia) next week.

Source: photo by Francesco Galli

David Chipperfield and Paolo Baratta

Now in its 13th year, this year’s event is entitled Common Ground, and is directed by architect David Chipperfield and chaired by Venice Biennale president Paolo Baratta.

Running until late November, the exhibition will be organised over the Pavilions at the Giardini, at the Arsenale and in the city of Venice itself. Among the 55 countries exhibiting, four – Angola, the Republic of Kosovo, Kuwait and Peru  – are making their Venetian debut.

Ca' Giustinian external view
Ca’ Giustinian external view

Chipperfield himself is presenting an exhibition at the Central Pavilion at the Giardini and the Arsenale, featuring 65 projects by architects, photographers and artists who have responded to his invitation to create pieces specifically for the Biennale.

Chipperfield says, ‘The emphasis of the 2012 Biennale is on what we have in common. Above all, the ambition of Common Ground is to reassert the existence of an architectural culture, made up not just of singular talents but a rich continuity of diverse ideas united in a common history, common ambitions, common predicaments and ideals.’


He adds, ‘The final list of contributors demonstrates a rich culture of difference rather than a selection of edited and promoted positions. We want to emphasise the common ground that the profession shares, notwithstanding the apparent diversity of today’s architectural production. The sharing of differences is critical to the idea of an architectural culture.’

As well as the wealth of exhibitions, the Biennale is also hosting university programme the Biennale Sessions; as well as a series of meetings and discussions entitled Conversations about the Architecture.

Padiglione Italia
Padiglione Italia

The British Pavilion, curated by Vicky Richardson of the British Council and Vanessa Norwood of the Architectural Association, will present the work of architectural ‘explorers’, including Aberrant Architecture and dRMM, who will show the results of expeditions they have taken to various parts of the world.

In addition the Strelka Institure will be hosting free talks from the likes of OMA’s Reinier de Graaf and Guardian design critic Justin McGuirk on architecture, urbanism and cityscapes.

FAT Architecture's Venice vila
FAT Architecture’s Venice vila

Architects FAT will be contributing the Museum of Copying exhibition to the Arsenale, which ‘explores the idea of the copy in architecture as an important, positive and often surreal phenomenon.’

The museum centres around FAT’s Villa Rotunda Redux installation –  a 5m high re-make of Palladio’s Villa Rotunda . Sam Jacob, a director of FAT, says, ‘There is a history of copies of the Villa Rotunda that have been important staging posts for architectural culture.

‘We hope to extend this history and explore how copying something is, strangely, a way of inventing new forms of architecture. It also seems sweet to return a bastardised form of the Villa to its original home in the Venito.’

FAT Architecture's Venice villa
FAT Architecture’s Venice villa

la Biennale di Venezia runs from 29 August – 25 November at various locations in Venice. For more information visit

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