A Social Perspective – Venice Architecture Biennale 2012

By Joanne Taylor
Byera Hadley Travelling Scholarship

Photograph: Joanne Taylor

The report summarises the methods of communicating the experiences of attending the Venice Biennale and delivers insight into how the overall experience has contributed to the development of my understanding of architecture.

The primary form of communication whilst in Venice was in blog posts and photographs which reviewed a number of events. These were uploaded onto both the 'architecture insights' webpage and an independent blog page called 'aperitif'.

The reviews were as follows:

  • The Romanian Pavilion - Play Mincu
  • The Japanese Pavilion - Architecture. possible here? “Home-for-All”
  • The Dutch Pavilion - Re-Set
  • The Hungarian Pavilion - Borderline
  • Gateway - Norman Foster, Charles Sandison and Carlos Carcas
  • Torre David Gran Horizonte - Urban Think Tank, Justine McGuirk and Iwan Baan

These reports were also edited into an overall review titled "Common Threads beyond Common Ground" and uploaded onto the Architecture AU webpage.

The secondary form of communication whilst in Venice was in the form of videos which were uploaded onto an independent You Tube channel titled 'aperitif Venice'.  The Video links were added to the blog page 'aperitif' and linked into the review uploads on the 'architecture Insights' webpage.

On return from Venice, I participated in the Short and Sharp Talk at the Crypt as part of the Sydney Architecture Festival focusing on the three most popular responses given to the theme 'common ground.'

Lastly I uploaded around 200 photos to an independent flickr account made available for public viewing.

The experiences of attending the Biennale were valuable for their capacity to deliver insight into the wide range of international responses on the theme 'common ground'; a timely and responsive theme set by David Chipperfield to the global economic climate.

It was noticeably in the exhibits that architecture had shifted its attention away from the self focused discipline most evident in the 2010 biennale towards one that was focused on delivering design solutions to the other 99% and was actively seeking strategies for the critical social issues associated with rapid global urbanisation. 

Two of the most successful exhibits in communicating this were the Torre David Gran Horizonte and the American Pavilion Spontaneous Interventions.

The first for its exposure to the new urban typologies emerging from informal developments and the second for its ability to identify the roles that architecture can play in shaping urban environments through community participation. 

Both of these exhibits exposed the informal self made solutions that non architects had found to immediate problems and in doing so managed to interject into architecture new critical standpoints, allowing it to self evaluate its position within society

The experiences at the biennale challenged my own action within architecture.  I have always maintained that architecture needs to respond to a society and have subsequently directed my interests towards working in contexts that are layered richly in social, cultural, and political issues; however the message of the 2012 biennale was a clear surfacing of the global need for more architects to take responsibility in those areas of critical opportunity.