austrian pavilion considers the role of parliament at venice biennale
 
austrian pavilion considers the role of parliament at venice biennale austrian pavilion considers the role of parliament at venice biennale
jun 18, 2014

austrian pavilion considers the role of parliament at venice biennale

austrian pavilion considers the role of parliament at venice biennale
photo by andreas balon / courtesy of the austrian pavilion

 

 

 

austria has presented ‘plenum. places of power‘ at the 2014 venice architecture biennale, an exhibition that focuses on the physical manifestation of democratic societies – parliament buildings. responding to the ‘absorbing modernity’ theme, set by curator rem koolhaas, the display, commissioned by christian kühn, examines the legitimation of power, considering what governmental structures look like and their relationship with the public they are meant to serve.

austrian pavilion venice architecture biennale
the display examines the legitimation of power, considering the nature of governmental structures
photo by andrea avezzù / courtesy la biennale di venezia

 

 

 

the main room at the austrian pavilion displays every national parliament building from around the world – envisioned as a ‘parliament of parliaments’ – each accompanied with site plans and relevant factual information. the display serves as a architectural library, highlighting typical forms and themes that are often applied to these built forms: national identity, permanence, conformity with historical exemplars, but also compulsive representation of new beginnings. individual models are attached to the pavilion’s walls in a strict grid formation, allowing the monuments to become ornament.

austrian pavilion venice architecture biennale
the main room at the pavilion displays every national parliament building from around the world
image © designboom

 

 

 

within two side rooms, specific examples are presented in more detail as a singular sequence of conditions: the austrian parliament on vienna’s ringstraße and two projects by coop himmelb(l)au – the design for the albanian parliament in tirana and the conference centre in dalian/china, built as a venue for the asian version of the world economic forum in davos. showcased in the context of their political history, the work focuses on conflicts, value judgements and partiality – the development of society in the medium of architecture.

austrian pavilion venice architecture biennale
each 1:500 model is accompanied with site plans and relevant factual information
image © designboom

 

 

 

in the adjacent courtyard, a densely-planted garden landscaped by auböck und kárász replaces the rationalist square grid of the floor panels, introducing a degree of disordered greenery. a sound installation developed by the kollektiv/rauschen group sees small loudspeakers positioned throughout the garden projecting both individual and collective voices.

austrian pavilion venice architecture biennale
the display serves as a architectural library, highlighting typical and commonplace forms
image © designboom

 

 

 

parliaments have a dual function in today’s world. on the one hand, they are functional places of political debate, workshops of legislation and arenas where government and opposition parties meet. on the other hand, they are symbolic places that are supposed to represent the power and dignity of the relevant political system. parliament buildings recount historical events and tell us about the utopian concepts of the assemblies they accommodate, making them into monumental buildings. with the word originating from the latin verb ‘monere’, meaning ‘to remember’, they are places of remembrance and admonishment in the literal sense of the word’, explains the exhibition’s commissioner christian kühn and concept designer harald trapp.

austrian pavilion venice architecture biennale
1:500 model of the japanese parliament building
image © designboom

 

 

 

we regarded research into the world’s parliament buildings as an essential approach to the subject. a superficial analysis of their dimensions, geometry and urban settings already delivered a multifarious picture of relationships. however, our research turned out to be more difficult than expected, since there was hardly any plan material available for most of the objects. during lecture courses lasting several months at the vienna university of technology, a group of 60 students embarked on the tedious mission of searching through publicly available image and plan material for as much precise information as possible on their form, interior organization and urban locations.

 

‘this work brought forth three-dimensional cad models and site plans on a standard scale that were used as a basis for the models and the publication. searching for an appropriate abstraction of the representation turned out to be a major problem. in spite of all the vagueness that such a method inevitably causes, we managed to compile a collection of national parliaments that is the first of its kind worldwide’.

austrian pavilion venice architecture biennale
1:500 model of the hungarian parliament building
image © designboom

 

 

 

the walls of the pavilion with the parliament models, the video objects on the ceilings of the side rooms, and the broken up and planted floor of the courtyard: these basic elements corresponding to the three dimensions of architecture form exhibition spaces between which a new space opens up – the plenum of places of power‘.

austrian pavilion venice architecture biennale
within two side rooms, specific examples are presented in more detail as a singular sequence of conditions
photo by andrea avezzù / courtesy la biennale di venezia

austrian pavilion venice architecture biennale
information is displayed on a series of elevated television screens
image © designboom

austrian pavilion venice architecture biennale
the adjacent courtyard comprises a densely-planted garden landscaped by auböck und kárász
photo by andreas balon / courtesy of the austrian pavilion

austrian pavilion venice architecture biennale
a sound installation by the kollektiv/rauschen group sees small loudspeakers positioned throughout the space
photo by andreas balon / courtesy of the austrian pavilion

 

 

plenum. places of power
venue: pavilion at giardini, venice
commissioner: christian kühn
concept and design: christian kühn, harald trapp
with contributions by: auböck + kárász landscape architects, coop himmelb(l)au, kollektiv/rauschen, institut für architektur und entwerfen – technische universität wien
exhibition team: thomas amann, florian sammer, kathrin schelling, markus zimmermann
project assistants and researchers: katharina brandl, doris grüssinger, daniela hahn
graphic design: buero bauer – gesellschaft für orientierung und identität

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