When he was named director of the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale, Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena asked curators to focus on projects that “improve the quality of the built environment and life and consequently people’s quality of life.”
The announcement of the 2016 Pritzker Prize winner last month came as something of a shock. Rather than select a precertified star, the jury picked Alejandro Aravena, best known for building smart, extremely low-cost social housing in his native Chile.
When Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena speaks about designing buildings, he invokes the language of governments and institutes: “investing in brains over bricks”; turning “forces into forms.” But unlike the abstract ideas that may emerge from a policy institute, Aravena, with his Santiago-based firm ELEMENTAL, is keen on designing solutions that not solely aid, but empower society’s neediest.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has been collecting architecture and design since 1870, when it was given a Roman sarcophagus. More recent acquisitions include a stairway from the Chicago Stock Exchange Building, by Louis Sullivan, and an entire living room by Frank Lloyd Wright.
The U.S. pavilion (1930) was designed by William Adams Delano and Chester Holmes Aldrich. The Venice Architecture Biennale is a polyglot affair. Some countries use their pavilions as conventional galleries, displaying photographs of finished buildings. Others create architecture-based installations. A smaller number take an intellectual approach, posing and then answering questions derived from architectural theory or practice. And a very few—and these may be the ones taking the greatest risks—pose questions to which the answers are allowed to emerge, through real-time investigation, over the course of the Biennale’s six-month run. Related links Exhibition Review: Time Space Existence Venice Dispatch:
The second main exhibition in this year's Rem Koolhaas-directed Venice Architecture Biennale is a "scan" of Italian cultural, political, and economic life in a sprawling series of work. The show, titled Monditalia, fills the Corderie in Venice's Arsenale—a long, brick-columned space once used to make rope for the Venetian navy. It includes views of Italian architecture, but it also includes art, film, dance performances, and other programming presented in conjunction with the organizers of Venice's other biennial exhibitions. The goal, according to Koolhaas, is to present a portrait of Italy as a "fundamental" country, a characterization he explains as a