Tuesday, March 11, 2014

FUNDAMENTALS - Rem Koolhaas Transforms Architecture by Going Back to Basics

Paolo Baratta & Rem Koolhaas - Photo: La Biennale
(Venice, Italy) Rem Koolhaas, the dynamic Director of the 14th International Architecture Exhibition has come up with a scheme to rattle architecture on a global scale by going back to the fundamentals, the theme of the 2014 program, and a subject that Paolo Baratta, the President of La Biennale, is passionate about. With esteemed Rolex as the exclusive partner, and a list of prestigious donors, this year's exhibition promises to be exciting, educational and innovative on a premier level.

Yesterday, March 10th, more details about the project were presented in a conference held in the elegant Sala delle Colonne at Ca' Giustinian, La Biennale headquaters. Koolhaas said that when he was approached to head the exhibition, he would do it under two conditions: first, he wanted to take more time, and second, he wanted it to be based on research, rather than display.

His wishes were granted. This year, instead of opening at the end of August or in September, the Architecture Exhibition will open on June 7th (previews June 5 & 6) and run through November 23, 2014. There will be 65 nations participating, 11 countries for the first time. Normally, the curator decides a theme and creates "his own" exhibition, leaving the individual nations to follow his lead or not. This year, a specific topic -- Absorbing Modernity 1914-2014 -- has been offered to all of them.

Koolhaas states: "Fundamentals consists of three interlocking exhibitions - Absorbing Modernity 1914-2014, Elements of Architecture and Monditalia - that together illuminate the past, present and future of our discipline. After several architecture Biennales dedicated to the celebration of the contemporary, Fundamentals will look at histories, attempt to reconstruct how architecture finds itself in its current situation, and speculate on its future." It sounds like an enormous lesson for all of us, not only architects, about how the planet arrived at its present state, and what the outlook is for the future.

In 1914 -Photo: courtesy La Biennale
In Absorbing Modernity 1914-2014, the 65 different nations contribute to tell a single story about architecture in the last century. Koolhaas asked: "Is the lens of a nation-state appropriate?" His research showed an enormous and critical relationship between architecture and the turbulence of history, wars and politics, and that most nations have abandoned their national identity. Each country is invited to show, in their own way, the process of the erasure of national characteristics in architecture in favor of the almost universal adoption of a single modern language.

In 2014 -Photo: courtesy La Biennale
Here are the titles of the offerings by the nations of the G8:

CANADA - Arctic Adaptations: Nunavut at 15
FRANCE - Modernity: promise or menace?
GERMANY - Bungalow Germania
GREAT BRITAIN - A Clockwork Jerusalem
ITALY - (details below)
JAPAN - In the real world
RUSSIA - Fair Enough
USA - OFFICEUS


Stair - Models at the Friedrich Mielke Institute of Scalology
The Elements of Architecture will be in the Central Pavilion, and will pay close attention to the fundamentals of our buildings, used by any architect, anywhere, anytime: the floor, wall, ceiling, roof, door, window, façade, corridor, fireplace, toilet, stairs, escalator, elevator, ramp... the balcony... Koolhaas said history would be entirely different if not for balconies, and he became fascinated about how people use them. (I could offer my own input about the creative use of balconies...) He hopes the public will be drawn by the topic. For instance, he learned that during the last fifteen years the elements have become more comfortable. We are not as robust, and steps have become flatter. Windows used to have aesthetic value, now they are all the same.

President Baratta said, "With great courage and ambition, after having traced the history of modernity over the past 100 years to the present, [Koolhaas] identifies and presents the elements that should act as references for a generated relationship between us and architecture."

Corderie Map - Arsenale
Monditalia will be dedicated to Italy, which is emblematic for what is happening in the world, and it will take over the enormous Corderie inside Arsenale, where Venice once made its naval rope. We will look at Italy as a "fundamental" country, completely unique but showing certain features -- particularly the coexistence of immense riches, creativity, competences and potential, combined with political turbulence -- that also make it a prototype of the current moment. Koolhaas said that Italy suffers from a "narcissism of difficulty," and that it believes everything is more difficult in Italy than anywhere else, which is not true. From south to north, all of Italy will be examined. In addition, all the other festivals of La Biennale will be involved -- Film, Dance, Music, Theater -- to collectively represent a comprehensive portrait of the host country.

Arnaud Boetsch from Rolex announced the major new partnership, becoming exclusive Partner and Official Timepiece of "the world's premier architectural forum." The sponsorship will run over the next three editions of the Biennale Architettura, from 2014 to 2018. Boetsch said, "Rolex is immensely proud to be lead sponsor of the Biennale Architettura. This reflects the brand's long-standing commitment to world-class architecture.Whether it is through the architecture of our own buildings or supporting the work of great architects, Rolex will continue its dedication to technological and aesthetic innovation -- a clear refection of the spirit that guides our approach to our watches."

Koolhaas writes:

Architecture, not architects...
An umbrella theme for the national pavilions from national to universal...
The Arsenale as performance space...

For more information, please go to La Biennale.

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

1 comment:

  1. Rem Koolhaas, the dynamic Director of the 14th International Architecture Exhibition has come up with a scheme to rattle architecture on a global scale by going back to the fundamentals, the theme of the 2014 program, and a subject that Paolo Baratta, the President of La Biennale, is passionate about. With esteemed Rolex as the exclusive partner, and a list of prestigious donors, this year's exhibition promises to be exciting, educational and innovative on a premier level.

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