Obviously when we saw that the first event of the first panel discussion on the first day was titled “Writing Building” and was billed as going beyond criticism and academic writing in an effort to recapture a lost audience (Are you still with me here?), we pricked up our ears. Read More
Last night we were part of the “special crowd” that was invited to Villa Foscari for the unveiling of Zaha’s newest sculpture for Villa Foscari, PALLADIO’S 500TH ANNIVERSARY.
Villa Foscari is a patrician villa in Mira, near Venice, northern Italy, designed by the Italian architect Andrea Palladio. It is also known as La Malcontenta, a nickname which it received when the spouse of one of the Foscari’s was locked up in the house because she allegedly didn’t live up to her conjugal duty. Faces seen, Aric Chen, Laurie Beckleman, Robert Rubin, Joseph Giovannini, Charles Refro, Diana Darling, Ben Prossky (Columbia Univ.), Mayor of Venice, Massimo Cacciari, Liz Diller, Hani Rashid and Lise Anne Couture, and Nigel Coates.
There are no singing nymphs and naiads wandering around—Philippe Rahm seems to have cornered the market on those—but the Penezic & Rogina project in the Arsenale has an echo of Italo Calvino’s invisible city of Armilla, whose only form is tubs and toilets and copper pipes, and whose citizens are the aforementioned maidens. The P & R installation actually kicks it up a notch, and takes in the digital and mechanical systems of a typical house as well, but as far as we know, there aren’t any nymphs in the future, which is a shame, so we allowed ourselves a moment to look back.
The Bellinis, toasts, and information exchange about digital technology flowed freely at a reception and rooftop dinner at the Danieli Hotel hosted by David Rockwell, Aaron Betsky, Reed Kroloff and Casey Jones. Liz Diller, Ric Scofidio and Charles Renfro joined the celebrants after decamping from an equally glam—but apparently mosquito infested party at Villa Malcontenta—party hosted by Zaha Hadid celebrating collegue-divided-only-by-the-centuries Palladio. Lise Anne Couture and Hani Rashid stayed in the Villa’s formal gardens, Couture recounted, pretending they were in the characters in the classic flick, Last Year at Marienbad.
What would an Architecture Biennale be without French people without clothes? We don’t know because it has never happened before. French architect Philippe Rahm wanted to turn air into structure and the original plan was to create a strong convection flow deploying a cold plane. A really cool idea, all agreed, but it wasn’t working on Day One leaving a bunch of comely dudes, some in minimalist Egyptian togs to inhabit the cool space, the others demonstrating the warm space in the buff. To our surprise, the ones exposing themselves were not architects but a performance troupe.
The three-story timber buttress of familiar forms rising midway through the Arsenale was already pretty impressive on the first day but then a guy showed up and set up shop in the corner to hammer out clay tiles, the 1,000 year old Venetian way, that will ultimately—in two weeks—clad the entire structure. The process of covering the wood armature in clay is also the first step usually used in making a bronze cast a la the Statue of Liberty. And so naturally we are wondering who’s in the market for a really big Gehry paperweight.
The maze-like Italian Pavillion hold the work of more than two dozen architects from all over the world, and while the vast majority of it was not produced for the Biennale, it is well worth tasking the time to get lost inside. It starts out impressively: The grand entrance hall, wallpapered in a dense hot orange-and-white graphic print, frames a spare and enigmatic installation by Ai Wei Wei and Herzog & de Meuron.A framework of massive bamboo poles supports a series of tiny bamboo chairs that are seemingly strapped into place. When I wandered through, it was still very much in progress—stacks of raw material were piled on one side of the room, and while a few assistants had knocked off work to check out something on the computer, the three artists were taking a walk-through to check it. Read More
It’s the night before the opening and all doors are locked, while interns and curators go bezerk trying to finish thier installations in time before press day at the 11th Architecture Biennale. I managed to sneak into the main space of the Arsenale, past David Rockwell’s whizzy interactive scrim (more later, once I figure it out) and into the vast emptiness now fairly crowded with a swooping green formation that–even without the help of a single label–is clearly a work of Zaha-ness