written by:
photos by:
December 7, 2012

The 13th Venice Architecture Biennale, directed by David Chipperfield and titled Common Ground, closed on 25th November 2012, attracting 178,000 visitors. Here’s a selection of some of the most interesting installations.

Torre David Gran Horizonte installation at Art Basel Miami

From Arsenale: The Torre David Gran Horizonte installation - which garnered a Golden Lion for best project - by Urban Think Tank studio shows a documentary and photographs about the abandoned office building that is occupied by inhabitants of the Caracas favelas. An ambiguous installation that showcases a typical restaurant that could be located in the vertical slum lends itself to multiple, varied, and contradictory readings. The installation and the prize were disowned both by the government of Venezuela and the association of architects in that country.

Photo by 
1 / 23

From Poland’s Pavilion: “Making the walls quake as if they were dilating with the secret knowledge of great powers” is a remarkable installation (it earned a Jury Special Mention) of the Polish Pavilion by the artist Katarzyna Krakowiak, in which sound and space fuse into an intense atmosphere. Visitors walk near the walls, through the pavilion, and experience the architecture in a rather different and peculiar way. All the sounds are live and internal to the pavilion; they have been amplified so visitors can listen, hear, eavesdrop, and feel the building. It becomes a living thing, didactic, frightening and quite mysterious at the same time.

Photo by 
2 / 23
OMA installation at Venice Biennale

From Central Pavilion: The OMA installation collects works of architecture by civil servants in five European countries driven by local authorities in the 1960s and 1970s. The mix is still modern and refreshing, featuring works made for the greater good, without personal ambitions. A legacy made with common sense, rigor, control and optimism. A selection of humble masterpieces achieved by bureaucrats.

Photo by 
3 / 23
Vessel by Sheila O’Donnell and John Tuomey

From Arsenale: Exploring the links between timber and brickwork, the Irish architects Sheila O’Donnell and John Tuomey present Vessel, a wooden structure (passage, chamber, and funnel) in raw dialogue with the layered brick construction of the site, the historic Arsenale. Shipbuilding and archaic constructions are thus re-examined.

Photo by 
4 / 23
5 / 23
Light House at Venice Biennale

From the Nordic Pavilion: Celebrating 50 years of the Nordic Pavilion designed by Sverre Fehn, 32 young architects from Finland, Norway, and Sweden expressed their ideas for a conceptual "Light House" that merges architectural character (site, material, tectonics, light) of the pavilion, the environmental/cultural character of the Nordic region, and the core principles and techniques of every participant and practice. The featured models seek to evoke feelings, sensory experiences, and concepts, rather than objectively describe reality. Openness, lightness, depth of experience, rest, emotional resonance, and "noble poverty" come to figure out the up-to-date assertion of an architecture identity in Nordic countries.

Photo by 
6 / 23

A close up at the Nordic Pavilion.

Photo by 
7 / 23

An optical cube at the Nordic Pavilion.

Photo by 
8 / 23

A shipbuilding exhibition piece at the Nordic Pavilion.

Photo by 
9 / 23

A piece from the Nordic Pavilion.

Photo by 
10 / 23

A chunk of hollowed timber at the Nordic Pavilion.

Photo by 
11 / 23
Silver Lion Winner Installation at Venice Biennale

From the Central Pavilion: The winner of the Silver Lion, this installation features large scale models of the Paulo Mendes da Rocha’s Serra Dourada Stadium in Brazil and Grafton Architects’ UTEC university campus in Lima. The influence that the Brazilian Pritzker prize has had on the Irish architects is revealed by the researched subjects as “built geography," “abstracted landscape," “landscape and infrastructure,” and “the horizon and the human being” (suggestive of a comparison of the landscapes of Machu Picchu in Peru and Skellig Michael off the west coast of Ireland). It also explores the possibilities of the ‘Free Section’ as a representation and work resource for big scale projects that encourage fluid, generous, open, and massive spaces.

Photo by 
12 / 23

A view of the Japan Pavilion.

Photo by 
13 / 23
Home-for-All model by Toyo Ito

From Japan’s Pavilion: Toyo Ito brings together three young Japanese architects (Kumiko Inui, Sou Fujimoto and Akihisa Hirata) to collaborate in the design a "Home-for-All" for people who lost everything in the city of Rikuzentakata because of the tsunami of 2011 in the north of Japan. Golden winning Lion for the Best National Participation, the project exudes humanity, is one of the clearest examples of real collaboration in the design process of a home. The result transcends disaster relief architecture and gives a glimpse of what could become an architecture that embodies the desires, user daily habits and a particular comprehension of the inner logic of a place through a professional method that is willing to dilute their personality and authorship to a minimum. A future and promising path for architecture.

Photo by 
14 / 23

Another shot from the Japan Pavilion.

Photo by 
15 / 23

Another shot in the Japan Pavilion.

Photo by 
16 / 23
Large scale technical document by Juan Herreros

From the Central Pavilion: The architect Juan Herreros materialize the theme of the Biennale through large scale technical documents of constructive details, facade cross-sections, and abstracted models of unmentioned projects, in order to illustrate his idea of Common Ground in current architectural practice, in which technique acts as an amalgam of diverse disciplines and where the architect is no longer a conductor but a member of a multi-polar, interdisciplinary team, also enriched by those who occupy and share the building.

Photo by 
17 / 23

A shot from the Germany Pavilion.

Photo by 
18 / 23
Reduce/Reuse/Recycle installation at Venice Biennale

From Germany’s Pavilion: The Germany Pavilion focuses its impeccable Reduce/Reuse/Recycle installation on recent works in Germany that share a particular approach to Architecture as a Resource in times of austerity. It is a modest but intelligent intervention that invites us to rethink the concept of green architecture and the appreciation and care of relatively recent built heritage. A simple, clear and didactic installation, which is some relief in a biennial sometimes crowded by unprofitable information.

Photo by 
19 / 23
Mold of Palladio’s Villa Rotunda by FAT architecture

From Arsenale: A mold of Palladio’s Villa Rotunda is the center of a larger installation in which FAT architecture practice explores the concept of copying and transformation in architecture. Ines Weizman scrutinizes the ownership disputes regarding Adolf Loos’s Baker House design. An intricate yet fascinating copyrights thriller presented through diagrams and letters. San Rocco invites visitors to produce a library from other books photocopies. Architectural Doppelgängers presents a series of photographs of actual architectural copies facing their respective originals. A state-of-the-art installation.

Photo by 
20 / 23
The Banality of Good installation at Venice Biennale

From the Central Pavilion: The installation The Banality of Good - paraphrasing Hanna Arendt - by Crimson Architectural Historians presents an analysis of the New Towns evolution, a sample of six cities built from the '50s to the present, showing the inversion and subversion of New Towns' founding ideals of emancipation, social equality, and progress, where values ​​as the "just", the "moral" or the "good" have been abandoned and replaced by process, profit, efficiency, and expediency. The exhibition is a well-founded critique of the drift that has taken hold of urban planning since the middle of last century to the present day.

Photo by 
21 / 23
Radix sculpture by Aires Mateus

From Gaggiandre The Gaggiandre at the Arsenale, two docks built between 1568 and 1573 designed by Jacopo Sansovino flanked by arched walkways are the frame and inspirational source for the sculpture ‘Radix’ made by Portuguese architect Aires Mateus, an arch supported by three points and an imaginary fourth corner hanging over the Venitian Lagoon. A harmonic place to stay and rest where history, sensitivity, technology, culture and a certain affection to the site comes into the common ground that the biennale stands for.

Photo by 
22 / 23
40,000 Hours installation at Venice Biennale

From the Central Pavilion: "40,000 Hours" is the estimated time that took the students to make this selection of models. It is showcased as a tribute to the collective effort at schools of architecture around the world. Same materials, similar dimensions, and anonymous models for the different projects let us take a look at upcoming ideas and tactics of new architects as well as the state of academic practice through diverse institutions. Finally, special mention deserves MVRDV architects alongside The Why Factory with their ‘Freeland’ video-installation. It presents a refreshing idea of ​​urban planning in which government agencies are put aside to make way for the self-organizing ability of individuals, which have a lot of freedom but are also responsible for supplying their own needs and grant certain urban values ​​and community services. Will we see the DIY urbanism in the near future? More than images or photos, here are the links to the videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMoQCRweXdU http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSwtduhoHOU

Photo by 
23 / 23
Torre David Gran Horizonte installation at Art Basel Miami

From Arsenale: The Torre David Gran Horizonte installation - which garnered a Golden Lion for best project - by Urban Think Tank studio shows a documentary and photographs about the abandoned office building that is occupied by inhabitants of the Caracas favelas. An ambiguous installation that showcases a typical restaurant that could be located in the vertical slum lends itself to multiple, varied, and contradictory readings. The installation and the prize were disowned both by the government of Venezuela and the association of architects in that country.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

30degree pendants by wrong.london
The Danish design brand never disappoints.
May 02, 2016
practical magic brooklyn renocation kitchen caesarstone countertop stainless steel ikea cabinetes green vola faucet
A creative couple flips the script on their family home, a former workman’s cottage on the northern edge of Brooklyn.
May 02, 2016
history lesson kansas city outdoor backyard facade porch saarinen round table emeco navy chairs
An architect pushes the vernacular architecture of Missouri into the modern realm.
May 02, 2016
mission possible san francisco renovation facade exterior french doors cedar
A dilapidated lot in San Francisco gets a second chance.
May 02, 2016
Eames Demetrios of Kcymaerxthaere
The Eames scion and "geographer-at-large" traverses the globe on behalf of Kcymaerxthaere, a network of markers and monuments that tells fictional tales about real-life communities.
May 02, 2016
marcel breuer architect letter office kansas city snower house
See a glimpse into the office of a master architect.
May 01, 2016
Santa Monica living room with an Yves Klein coffee table
Dwell editor-in-chief Amanda Dameron talks us through Dwell's May 2016 issue.
May 01, 2016
house that sottsass built maui hawaii memphis group home renovation ettore facade colored volumes
In Maui, of all places.
May 01, 2016
two of a kind padua italy matching family homes facade green roof doors color
For Dwell's annual issue dedicated to dream homes , we visited homes from Haiti to Italy. Here, we introduce you to the photographers and writers who made it happen.
April 30, 2016
houseofweek
Every week, we highlight one amazing Dwell home that went viral on Pinterest. Follow Dwell's Pinterest account for more daily design inspiration.
April 30, 2016
W House living room
Our best reader reactions this week.
April 29, 2016
Vineyard house illuminated at night
Rammed-earth construction fuses this Portuguese house to the environment.
April 29, 2016
vintage Scandinavian furniture Kathryn Tyler
In southwest England, interior designer Kathryn Tyler built her home around her ever-expanding furniture collection.
April 29, 2016
steel facade home Seattle
On the sandy shores of Fauntleroy Cove in Seattle, renowned firm Olson Kundig Architects crafts a subtle home with striking steel accents.
April 29, 2016
seperate piece renovated guesthouse eames storage unit cork floor tiles living room
An architect and an interior designer put the tools to the test for this impressive renovation.
April 29, 2016
Ceramics by WrenLab
Manhattan doesn’t get to have all the fun during NYCxDesign. Brooklyn is set for the return of BKLYN DESIGNS at the Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint from May 6-8, 2016. Here are just a few exhibitors we are excited to see this year.
April 29, 2016
n0a6974 dxo
Architect Diego Revollo refreshes an apartment with a standout kitchen.
April 29, 2016
img 8652 1
The city of San Francisco has been eagerly awaiting the reopening of SFMOMA for years—and as the May 14th opening approaches closer everyday, the anticipation continues to build for art enthusiasts both near and far. This morning, we were given the opportunity to explore the newly expanded space before the crowds roll in. After a series of speeches, remarks, and tours, we left the grounds feeling thoroughly inspired and excited to share what we discovered.
April 28, 2016
gramercy 1 ar53319
A family doesn’t have to travel far for a private oasis away from the busy city.
April 28, 2016
Renovation of 1967 Hamburg apartment with Vipp kitchen.
In our April issue, we showcased an apartment in Hamburg, Germany, with a striking, matte-black kitchen from Vipp. The 77-year-old company became famous for its iconic pedal trash can before venturing into kitchens and other tools for the home. This isn't the first time that the Danish company's products have graced our pages, and here we've gathered additional examples from our archive that show how the brand's minimalist black kitchens are always a win in modern interiors.
April 28, 2016
Zafra residence living room.
A man and his wife make an emotional return to an apartment building he loved as a kid.
April 28, 2016
the garden inside concrete dining pavilion indoor outdoor custom cabinets thermador dishwasher refrigerator
A skylit conservatory doubles as a verdant dining parlor in Sonoma County, California.
April 28, 2016
Details of the Calico collection.
Calico Wallpaper founders Nick and Rachel Cope showed us through their home in our March Issue, now step inside their studio.
April 28, 2016
william krisel pow 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
April 27, 2016
Dwell on Design and designjunction at ArtBeam
It's all part of Dwell on Design + designjunction's three-day event, featuring a program of talks chock-full of leading figures in design, architecture, urbanism, and beyond—coming up May 13-15 at ArtBeam in New York.
April 27, 2016
seattles mariners floating house prefab facade exterior fiber cement panels
A prefabricated floating home drops anchor in the Pacific Northwest.
April 27, 2016
royan treatment living room stone fireplace vintage new furnishings
French designer Florence Deau effortlessly mixes the old with the new.
April 27, 2016
modern netherlands 13 noordeinde schoolhouse parquet herringbone floors stove
Take a lesson from this school-turned-home.
April 27, 2016
The sidewalks of Copacabana in Rio De Janero, Brazil, designed by Roberto Burle Marx
The Jewish Museum in New York City takes it outside with a celebration of the Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx.
April 26, 2016
Waterfront home in Belvedere, California
A 1960s home infested with powderpost beetles had to be sacrificed before this this Zen-inspired house could happen.
April 26, 2016