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Reporting from the front – Biennale Architettura 2016

Biennale Architettura 2016

Open to the public from Saturday, May 28th to Sunday, November 27th 2016 at the Giardini and the Arsenale, the 15th International Architecture Exhibition, titled REPORTING FROM THE FRONT, is directed by Alejandro Aravena and organised by La Biennale di Venezia chaired by Paolo Baratta. The preview took place on May 26th and 27th, the awards ceremony and inauguration was held on Saturday May 28th 2016.
The Exhibition also includes 63 National Participations in the historic Pavilions at the Giardini, at the Arsenale and in the historic city centre of Venice. Four countries are participating for the first time: Philippines, Nigeria, Seychelles and Yemen.
The Italian Pavilion at the Tese delle Vergini in the Arsenale, sponsored and promoted by the Ministero dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali e del Turismo, has been assigned to the curatorial team TAMassociati: Massimo Lepore, Raul Pantaleo, and Simone Sfriso.

The Exhibition REPORTING FROM THE FRONT is laid out in a unitary exhibition sequence from the Central Pavilion (Giardini) to the Arsenale, and includes 88 participants from 37 different countries. 50 of them are participating for the first time, and 33 architects are under the age of 40.

“The lady on the ladder who, climbing up onto the highest steps can gaze over a far broader horizon, and by doing so conquers an “expanded eye”, announces the Biennale Architettura 2016 curated by Alejandro Aravena. We immediately loved this picture – stated President Paolo Baratta – because in a way it represents La Biennale as a whole, with our attitudes and our goals. What does the lady see? I think – commented Baratta – mainly desolated land comprising immense swathes of human habitation which no human could be proud of; great disappointments representing a sad, infinite number of missed opportunities for humanity’s ability to act intelligently. Much of this is tragic, much is banal, and it seems to mark the end of architecture. But she also sees signs of creativity and hope, and she sees them in the here-and-now, not in some uncertain aspirational, ideological future.”

“We believe – explained Alejandro Aravena – that the advancement of architecture is not a goal in itself but a way to improve people’s quality of life. Given that life ranges from very basic physical needs to the most intangible dimensions of the human condition, consequently, improving the quality of the built environment is an endeavour that has to tackle many fronts: from guaranteeing very concrete, down-to-earth living standards to interpreting and fulfilling human desires, from respecting the single individual to taking care of the common good, from efficiently hosting daily activities to expanding the frontiers of civilization.
It is not easy 
– concluded Aravena –
 to achieve such a level of expansion and synthesis; they are battles that need to be fought. The always menacing scarcity of means, the ruthless constraints, the lack of time and urgencies of all kinds are a constant threat that explain why we so often fall short in delivering quality. The forces that shape the built environment are not necessarily amicable either: the greed and impatience of capital or the single mindedness and conservatism of the bureaucracy tend to produce banal, mediocre and dull built environments. These are the frontlines from which we would like different practitioners to report, sharing success stories and exemplary cases where architecture did, is and will make a difference.”

The 15th International Architecture Exhibition features three Special Projects, the first promoted by La Biennale, the other two the result of agreements stipulated with other institutions, organized and realised by La Biennale itself.
The exhibition curated by architect Stefano Recalcati, titled Reporting from Marghera and Other Waterfronts, to be shown in the exhibition venues of Forte Marghera (Mestre, Venezia), examines significant projects for the urban regeneration of industrial ports, helping to fuel the debate on the conversion of production in Porto Marghera.

The collaboration agreement with the Victoria and Albert Museum of London takes its first step in the Applied Arts Pavilion at the Sale d’Armi in the Arsenale, with the exhibition entitled A World of Fragile Parts, curated by Brendan Cormier.
Finally, in view of the United Nations – Habitat III world conference, to be held in Quito, Ecuador, during the month of October 2016, and as part of the Urban Age programme, organized jointly by the London School of Economics and the Alfred Herrhausen Society, La Biennale presents, also in the Sale d’Armi, a pavilion dedicated to the themes of urbanisation – Report from Cities: Conflicts of an Urban Age – with particular attention to the relationship between public spaces and private spaces, curated by Ricky Burdett.

The Biennale Architettura 2016 is accompanied throughout its duration by a wide-ranging programme of encounters to discuss the themes and phenomena presented in the Exhibition. The Meetings on Architecture return this year with the architects and protagonists of the International Architecture Exhibition curated by Aravena, scheduled for every last weekend of the month. The “Special Projects” will also be enriched with a series of conversations and symposia to explore the issues they raise.

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