Theme for 13th Venice Architecture Biennale announced

Jan 19, 2012
  • Article by Online Editor
  • Photography by Martin-Godwin
  • Designer

British architect David Chipperfield, the Director of the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale, has revealed the theme for this year’s exhibition.

Entitled ‘Common Ground’, the 2012 Biennale will “celebrate a vital, interconnected architectural culture, and pose questions about the intellectual and physical territories that it shares,” said Chipperfield, adding that the event would “encourage the collaboration and dialogue that I believe is at the heart of architecture.”

The theme explores the notion of shared experiences among architects, he said, and also shines a spotlight on ideas of urban spaces, the ‘common ground’ between buildings.

Chipperfield explained: “I am interested in the things that architects share in common, from the conditions of the practice of architecture to the influences, collaborations, histories and affinities that frame and contextualise our work.

“The title ‘Common Ground’ also has a strong connotation of the ground between buildings, the spaces of the city. I want projects in the Biennale to look seriously at the meanings of the spaces made by buildings: the political, social, and public realms of which architecture is a part. I do not want to lose the subject of architecture in a morass of sociological, psychological or artistic speculation, but to try to develop the understanding of the distinct contribution that architecture can make in defining the common ground of the city.

“This theme is a deliberate act of resistance towards the image of architecture propagated in much of today’s media of projects springing fully formed from the minds of individual talents. I wish to promote the fact that architecture is internally connected, intellectually and practically, sharing common concerns, influences and intentions.”

The President of the Biennale di Venezia, Paolo Baratta, said organisers were “lucky” to have Chipperfield as Director, welcoming the appointment of an architect to the role. “The Biennale exhibitions in recent years had broadened the representation of architecture by emphasising its connections with a series of big social, urban, environmental and political ‘issues’,” he said. “So it appeared useful to turn to an architect who demonstrates great interest in architecture as a discipline and raises questions about the elements of which it is composed, about the objectives it pursues, about the constraints that affect it, about the tools that it uses to shape places, spaces, buildings.”

Chipperfield follows in the footsteps of Kazuyo Sejima of Japanese firm SANAA, who was Director of the 12th Architecture Biennale in 2010.

The Australian exhibition at the 2012 Biennale will be themed ‘Formations: New Practices in Australian Architecture’ and will be directed by Anthony Burke and Gerard Reinmuth in collaboration with TOKO.

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