Noticias de Arquitectura

The Venice Architecture Exhibition
septiembre 13, 2008, 4:05 am
Filed under: Venecia

Sane meets silly at the International Architecture Exhibition in Italy

Lucy Alexander

Architecture: from the sublime to the ridiculous; from the practical to the farcical. This would be a more apt theme for the 11th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale this weekend (until November 23) than the real one, Out There: Architecture Beyond Building. According to the publicity materials, the British presence promises to be a mixture of serious debate and pretentious posturing.

In the former category is a British Council debate entitled “How lovely is thy dwelling: building homes in the 21st century”. This will examine such crucial questions as: “Is it possible to mention leading architectural design and volume housebuilding in the same breath?” and “Is it possible to shake off the cynicism and lethargy that beleaguers UK housebuilders, particularly in the current economic climate?” The speakers include John Callcutt, the author of the 2007 Callcutt Review into housebuilding, plus a panel of five architects, whose concurrent exhibition, Home/Away: Five British Architects Build Housing in Europe, will “explore the roots of the British obsession with home ownership”.

All very sensible and interesting – unlike the description of the Hypnerotosphere exhibition, pictured, by Nigel Coates, the head of architecture at the Royal College of Art, which includes a film of “sensuous dance” intended to “explore architectural relationships through the medium of the body”. How? Well, the dancers’ “flow” takes place “against the unsympathetic and brutal backdrop of some well-known Italian social housing”, and the “physical interaction between these bodies, their libidinous attraction even, suggests a paradigm that could underpin architecture with a new humanism”.

But top prize for pomposity goes to the director of the Biennale, Aaron Betsky, for his description of a fringe debating forum, the Darkside Club: “A coven of knowledge, in which the secret history of architecture that is critical and constructs alternatives to the built affirmation of the social, political and economic status quo receives a documentation and discussion, strategies are developed for fighting the power, and poems and paeans to other worlds are developed.” Eh?


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