with the venice architecture biennale soon underway, droves of archi-tourists have begun to flock to the ancient city to experience a series of stunning architecture displays. among these is the estonian pavilion, which presents the exhibition ‘weak monument’. curated by laura linsi, roland reemaa and tadeáš říha, the exhibit examines the capacity of architecture to be political, by juxtaposing two antithetical notions — weakness and monumentality.

estonian pavilion venice
all images © tõnu tunnel



the pavilion of estonia transforms the former baroque church of santa maria ausiliatrice, which offers remnants of a monumental, yet decadent spatial symmetry and hierarchy. the curatorial team observed all architectural elements — from triumphal columns to the pavement beneath — and constructed an interruption to the chapel. 

estonian pavilion venice



the former church is manipulated by a seemingly suburban pavement that covers its colored marbles, while a monolithic concrete wall divides the venue in two parts. everyday and exceptional structures occupy the same baroque interior. while the wall initially appears impenetrable, it can be crossed, and behind it lies a collection of ‘weak monuments’. estonian and european examples are showcased through existing and newly-commissioned photographs, drawings and models, and in the catalogue. 

estonian pavilion venice



‘where does the monument stop and the pavement begin?’, curator tadeáš říha questions. ‘sometimes maintenance or neglect may overstep the boundary. sometimes the difference is diminished by a protest, sometimes by a demolition. sometimes it is the history, the location or the material that blurs the exceptional and the everyday. in those moments that we present, something new occurs, not precisely aligned to how the monument is traditionally understood.

estonian pavilion venice

estonian pavilion venice

estonian pavilion venice

estonian pavilion venice



project info:


exhibition: weak monument
former church of santa maria ausiliatrice
fondamenta san gioacchin (east edge of via garibaldi)
laura linsi, roland reemaa, tadeáš říha
raul järg (estonian centre of architecture)



venice architecture biennale golden lion

designboom’s coverage of the 2018 venice architecture biennale is in partnership with leading energy company edison. edison is taking part in the 16th international architecture exhibition of la biennale di venezia by initiating a path towards sustainability and the efficient use of resources. the collaboration between edison and la biennale is based on awareness that energy is one of the fundamental elements of architecture and of the places, spaces and cities of contemporary life.

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