in therapy: the nordic countries confront their legacy at the venice biennale
image © laurian ghinitoiu

 

 

 

positioned at the heart of the venice biennale’s giardini, the nordic pavilion brings together the countries of finland, norway and sweden as part of a joint-exhibition. completed in 1962, the pavilion itself was designed by sverre fehn, a celebrated norwegian architect who was later awarded the pritzker prize in 1997. however, the success of fehn and his peers has long affected contemporary nordic practice, exerting profound influence, both consciously and unconsciously. consequently, the exhibition in venice — curated by archdaily‘s founder & editor in chief david basulto and european editor-at-large james taylor-foster — seeks to place the nordic nations ‘in therapy’, acknowledging the sometimes irrepressible presence of the modern masters.

venice architecture biennale nordic pavilion
the nordic pavilion brings together the countries of finland, norway and sweden
image © laurian ghinitoiu

 

 

 

rather than filling the pavilion with models and architectural drawings, the interior forms a natural extension of the surrounding parkland. glass doors slide wide open, welcoming visitors in a manner benefiting of sverre fehn’s original intentions. at the center of the space, a step-pyramid constructed from swedish pine mirrors the treads and risers of the pavilion’s external staircase. as well as creating an amphitheater for debate and reflection, such a gesture is also an attempt to distance the intervention from the weighty context of its surroundings. liberated from history, the amphitheater allows new questions to be asked concerning architecture’s future direction.

venice architecture biennale nordic pavilion
a step-pyramid mirrors the treads and risers of the pavilion’s external staircase
image © laurian ghinitoiu

 

 

 

the curators state that ‘in therapy’ isn’t really attempting to be an exhibition at all. intended as place of reflection, and almost distraction, the pavilion does not demand visitors’ full attention, nor does it crave it. only five couches dot the floor plan, each oriented towards its own television screen. the timber staircase — a large, but obliging presence — takes on a more symbolic quality, examining finland, norway, and sweden’s supposed position at the top of a social and cultural pyramid.

venice architecture biennale nordic pavilion
the structure creates an amphitheater for debate and reflection
image © designboom

 

 

 

despite achieving a balance between capitalist society and welfare state, the three countries each face new and pressing challenges in the forms of immigration, social integration, ageing population, and a shift towards a post-industrial economy. these demands are considered in terms of the built environment, revealing conflicts and connections between architecture and nordic society. ‘it is architecture — in its broadest role as a spatial, social, and cultural practice — which sits at the center of this discourse,’ say the curators.

venice architecture biennale nordic pavilion
the pavilion seeks to form a natural extension of the surrounding parkland
image © laurian ghinitoiu

 

 

 

for more images, follow designboom on our dedicated instagram account @venice.architecture.biennale.

venice architecture biennale nordic pavilion
the pyramidal installation is constructed from swedish pine
image © laurian ghinitoiu

venice architecture biennale nordic pavilion
there is a deliberate absence of architectural models and drawings
image © designboom

venice architecture biennale nordic pavilion
the staircase distances the exhibition from the weighty modernist context of its surroundings
image © laurian ghinitoiu

venice architecture biennale nordic pavilion
‘in therapy’ reveals conflicts and connections between architecture and nordic society
image © laurian ghinitoiu

venice architecture biennale nordic pavilion
the pavilion provides a welcome respite from the hectic surroundings
image © designboom

venice architecture biennale nordic pavilion
glass doors slide wide open, welcoming visitors
image © designboom

venice architecture biennale nordic pavilion
the pavilion remains on display at the venice architecture biennale until november 27, 2016
image © laurian ghinitoiu

 

 

 

the nordic participation is a collaboration between arkdes – the swedish centre for architecture and design, stockholm, the museum of finnish architecture helsinki, and the national museum’s (nasjonalmuseet) department of architecture, oslo. the exhibition has been realized by marge arkitekter.

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