Architecture Biennale 2018: focus on national participations

18.06.2018 | by Cordula Vielhauer

The curators of Venice’s 16th Architecture Biennale, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, came up with a motto entitled Freespace that allows plenty of scope for interpretation. We present eight national participations that look at interesting contemporary issues. You can find a detailed description of the themes of the 16th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia – in our first Biennale report Freespace.

Netherlands, photos: maipr

The Dutch pavilion entitled Work, Body, Leisure (commissioned by Het nieuwe Instituut) is one of the most interesting ones. Visitors enter a “locker room” with lots of lockers extending up into the space, which they open to reveal various (dystopian) views of the future of work – ranging from #bed (a tribute to John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Sleep In) to #simulation (models of enhanced human bodies) to #farm (scenarios dreamt up by Indian render farmers).

Australia, photo: maipr

The Australian pavilion brings what’s outside inside and vice versa: here visitors find themselves in an idyllic meadow landscape used by the Australians to indicate their continent’s endangered grasses. In the Anthropocene age, nature is becoming a valuable exhibit again.

Czech Republic, photo: maipr

The story’s similar with day-to-day life too: with the aid of a company entitled UNES-CO, which was founded especially for the purpose, the Czechs and Slovaks are looking for families who would like to live a normal life in the town of Český Krumlov for three months – for a fee and with their lodgings paid for. The reason is due to the exodus of many citizens from the historical centre of the town due to the tourism boom. In other words, the museumisation of day-to-day life has started.

Ireland, photo: maipr

In Ireland, people also recognise the value of everyday spaces and activities in the life and social fabric of the community: in Arsenale they’ve created a whole market place with lots of stands where visitors can find out about the concept of the free market. The goal is to breathe new life into small and medium-sized towns (Townies), in which existing public spaces are to be boosted and where usage options that encourage a sense of community are added – with weekly markets taking centre stage.

Luxembourg, photos: maipr

Luxembourg looks at the question of land: visitors enter the installation in Arsenale via a narrow corridor that indicates the proportion of the tiny country’s land that’s in public hands. This space accounts for a mere 8% of the land with the rest in private hands. At that same time, land-saving architectural visions are shown as well as an analysis of the historical development of these models.

Belgium, photo: maipr

There’s no real floor at all in the Belgian pavilion, in fact visitors take off their shoes to walk over a topographical landscape that looks like a Greek amphitheatre. The very attractive installation is in typical EU blue and called Eurotopie. A book written in all European languages tells the accompanying story.

Japan, photo: maipr

The Japanese pavilion primarily explores the way architecture is portrayed: it pays tribute to the drawing in all its facets and provides visitors with jumbo-sized magnifying glasses and ladders so that they can find out more. It’s worthwhile taking a closer look.

German participation Unbuilding Walls, photos: Jan Bitter

The German pavilion’s Unbuilding Walls features a replica of the Berlin Wall. From the entrance point, each of the segments look like one continuous wall but disperse into a group of individual panels when you draw closer to them. The curators from Berlin’s Graft studio and politician Marianne Birthler show 28 projects located on the site of the former Wall’s death strip. They juxtapose these with video statements from people living in areas divided by walls – in Cyprus, the Gaza Strip or on the border between Mexico and the US.


Dates and venues:

The 16th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia – runs until 25 November 2018.
Giardini della Biennale: Sestiere Castello, 30122 Venice

Arsenale: Campielo Tana 2169/F, Sestiere Castello, 30122 Venice


Click here for information on the 16th Architecture Biennale in Venice:


You can find our first article about the Architecture Biennale in Venice with an overview of the key themes and prize winners here.


Click here for more information on the exhibition sponsored by Wilkhahn and entitled Sleeping Beauty – Reinventing Frei Otto’s Multihalle.



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