Venice Architecture Biennale 2021: United States of America, Belgium, Nordic Countries

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This year, the Venice Architecture Biennale is dealing with the question "How will we live together" and thus offers plenty of room for interpretation. We were on site and went on an exploratory tour of the various national pavilions. Especially the Belgian and American contribution as well as the pavilion of the Nordic countries have remained in our memory. Therefore we would like to present them to you here.

United States of America

Commissioner: Paul Preissner
Curator: Paul Andersen, Paul Preissner
Exhibitors: Ania Jaworska, Norman Kelley (Carrie Norman and Thomas Kelley), Daniel Shea, Chris Strong, The University of Illinois at Chicago School of Architecture
Title: American Framing


Reportedly originating in 1832 with George Washington Snow’s balloon-framed warehouse, softwood construction offered a solution to the need for a variety and large number of buildings during America’s westward expansion. The availability of the principal material, simplicity of construction, an ability to be built by low- or unskilled workers, and the growing economies and populations of the Midwest led to the proliferation of an architecture that has since dominated the American built landscape. The exhibition tells a story of an architectural project that is eager to choose economy over technical knowledge, and accepting of relaxed ideas towards craft. This desire plays out in a full-scale addition to the pavilion building itself: completing the 1930s US Pavilion, with America’s ubiquitous domestic project, the wood-framed houses.


Commissioner: Flanders Architecture Institute
Curator: Bovenbouw Architectuur
Exhibitors: 360 Architecten, Architecten BroekxSchiepers, architecten de vylder vinck taillieu, architecten Els Claessens en Tania Vandenbussche, Architectenbureau Bart Dehaene and many more
Title: Composite Presence

How do city and architecture flourish together? This question is central to this threedimensional ‘capriccio’ that displays a fictional yet recognisable Flemish urban environment. Over time, the informal city in Flanders and Brussels has developed a unique relationship with its architecture. This staged urban landscape reveals how historical layers, morphological peculiarities, and unforeseen collisions are an endless source of energy for contemporary production. The works brings out a certain thematic discipline when it comes to the production of an attractive urban environment. The interface between the public domain and the building, the plasticity of the street, the joyful reuse of the existing fabric, the elegant scale jump . . . all these issues have gradually become key components of the collective discourse on how to produce a lasting environment.

Nordic countries (Norway, Sweden, Finland)

Commissioners: Stina Høgkvist, The National Museum of Norway, Carina Jaatinen, Museum of Finnish Architecture, MFA Kieran Long, ArkDes: Swedish national centre for architecture and design
Curator: Martin Braathen, The National Museum of Norway
Exhibitors: Helen & Hard Architects, Anna Ihle
Title: What we share. A model for cohousing

The exhibition „What We Share. A model for cohousing“ is a full-scale section of a prospective cohousing project. Here, Norwegian architects Helen & Hard challenge residents to share elements of their private lives, with each other and with the public. The result is a tectonic and politically charged shared space, a model for how to simultaneously build a community and a sustainable living environment. The project uses a sustainable, innovative, open-source solid-timber construction system. The artist Anna Ihle, a resident of Vindmøllebakken, explores the political dimensions of sharing in a video work.

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