venice architecture biennale preview: alejandro aravena’s ‘reporting from the front’
image © DONTSTOP architettura




architects, critics, and curators are descending on venice this week for the 15th international architecture exhibition. titled ‘reporting from the front’ by its director and pritzker laureate alejandro aravena, the 2016 venice architecture biennale seeks to respond to the themes of segregation, migration, inequality, access to sanitation, the shortage of housing, and community participation. aravena’s approach stands in contrast to rem koolhaas’ 2014 biennale, which many saw as an event dedicated entirely to its curator’s research.


as is traditional, the exhibition presents national participants within their own pavilions at the giardini and the arsenale, and across venice’s historic city center. this edition will also include selected collateral exhibitions from international entities and institutions, who will present their initiatives concurrently with the larger event.


designboom will be reporting live from venice ahead of the biennale’s public opening on may 28th. below, we pick out a selection of the pavilions and exhibitions not to be missed. follow designboom’s ongoing coverage of the event here, and stay tuned to our dedicated instagram account — @venice.architecture.biennale — where designboom’s editorial team will continue to share the latest photos, interviews, and exhibitions live. join us by sharing your favorite images from the biennale using the hashtag #biennaleBOOM.


across chinese cities / china house vision exhibition


organized by beijing design week, the exhibition ‘across chinese cities – china house vision’ explores the realm of domestic habitation. presented ideas respond to urban challenges, lifestyle transformations and basic human needs. curated by beatrice leanza and michele brunello (DONTSTOP architettura), the display features a body of research produced with a team of architects based in china as well as experts from various industries. the exhibition addresses the implications affecting architectural practice in contemporary china, which has seen an increased influence from environmental factors, demographics, and generational segmentation.


participating architects include: approach architecture studio, atelier deshaus, atelier FCJZ, atelier fronti, AZL architects, beijing centre for the arts (in collaboration with kengo kuma, winy maas and au yeung ying chai), B.L.U.E. architecture studio, crossboundaries architects, MAD architects, NEXT architects, trace architecture office, URBANUS, ZAO/standardarchitecture.

venice architecture biennale preview
presented ideas respond to urban challenges, lifestyle transformations and basic human needs




the pavilion of australia

venice architecture biennale preview
visitors will be immersed in a multi-sensory experience
image courtesy of the australian institute of architects




in april 2015, the australia council for the arts unveiled a revitalized cultural home for the country at venice’s giardini della biennale. designed by melbourne-based practice denton corker marshall, the granite-clad building is the first 21st century pavilion built on the site, and replaces the previous structure completed by philip cox in 1988. at this year’s biennale, one of australia’s great cultural symbols — the pool — forms the foundation of the country’s much-anticipated exhibition. visitors are immersed in a multi-sensory experience that uses light, scent, sound, reflection and perspective to give guests a truly ‘poolside’ encounter.

venice architecture biennale preview
the australian pavilion was completed by denton corker marshall in 2015 / image © john gollings
see designboom’s previous coverage of the pavilion here




resistance exhibition

venice architecture biennale preview
the project examines the characteristics of portuguese stone / image © pedro sadio
see designboom’s previous coverage of the project here




the ‘resistance’ exhibition is an exploratory project into the characteristics and qualities of portuguese stone. as part of the event, the physical and mechanical characteristics of the material are considered, starting with a look into the beauty and coloration of both marble and limestone. the program has a time span of 18 months with the first show hosting the work of five international architects: amanda levete, alvaro siza, bijoy jain, alejandro aravena, and mia hägg. curated by guta moura guedes, the pieces are on display at villa hériot on the island of giudecca. 

venice architecture biennale preview
the physical and mechanical characteristics of the material are considered
image © pedro sadio




the spanish pavilion



preview of spain’s ‘unfinished’ exhibition
video courtesy of iñaqui carnicero




the spanish exhibition – curated by iñaqui carnicero and carlos quintáns – contains 67 proposals and seven photographic series presenting solutions to the problems arising in the country after the global economic crisis. the ‘unfinished’ exhibition seeks to highlight the idea of ‘process’ in an attempt to uncover design strategies generated by an optimistic view of the built environment. the exhibition gathers examples of architecture produced during the past few years that respond to profound feelings of uncertainty at social, economic, and political levels.

venice architecture biennale preview
this once derelict church in spain has been preserved by architect ferran vizoso / image © josé hevia
see designboom’s previous coverage of the project here




zaha hadid retrospective exhibition

venice architecture biennale preview
hafenstrasse development, hamburg, 1989 / image © zaha hadid architects
see designboom’s previous coverage of the exhibition here




coinciding with the start of the biennale, palazzo franchetti forms the backdrop to an exhibition dedicated to the late, great zaha hadid. hosted by fondazione berengo, the retrospective features many of the seminal paintings and models created by the architect, with a wide collection of work reflecting the dynamism of her projects. three particular projects representing milestones in zaha hadid’s career are presented in their own room: the vitra fire station (completed 1993) in weil am rhein, germany; the rosenthal center for contemporary art in cincinnati (completed 2003); and the MAXXI museum of 21st century arts in rome (completed 2009).

venice architecture biennale preview
zaha hadid’s ‘520 west 28th’ residences in new york
see designboom’s previous coverage of the project here




the antarctic pavilion

venice architecture biennale preview
antarctica bioprospecting station by lenka petráková




responding to mankind’s relentless consumption and insatiable need for space, the antarctic pavilion presents an installation by architect hani rashid and the institute of architecture, university of applied arts vienna. the exhibition considers what the future might hold for antarctica and considers whether entirely new forms of architecture for the continent’s potential cities can evolve from questions that need to be asked regarding sustainable, renewable, and zero-impact solutions. the pavilion is hosted at venice’s fondaco marcello.

venice architecture biennale preview
the exhibition responds to mankind’s relentless consumption and insatiable need for space




the united states pavilion

venice architecture biennale preview
the united states pavilion courtyard in the giardini
see designboom’s previous coverage of the project here




curated by cynthia davidson and mónica ponce de león, this year’s united states pavilion presents ‘the architectural imagination’ — an exhibition that showcases a range of sites across the city of detroit. the result sees 12 projects on display by 22 american architects who have re-imagined the sites using architectural models, drawings, collages, and videos. detroit is currently coping with population loss, desolate neighborhoods, abandoned buildings, and sharp racial divides. the schemes on display seek to confront these issues and consider the potential of postindustrial cities in the united states and beyond.

venice architecture biennale preview
a situation made from loose and overlapping social and architectural aggregates
image courtesy of MOS