written by:
photos by:
August 31, 2010

I was once told, "If you ever go to the Venice Biennale, you will see all of the architecture that the world will be seeing for the next two years."  So here I am, at the opening of the 2010 Biennale, drinking in two years' worth of architectural innovations and provocations and storing it for the future. The first of our slideshows covers my encounters at the Arsenale—and will surely quench the thirst of your eyeballs.

The Arsenale area of Venice is one of the largest military ports in Europe, and its existing structures provide backdrop to one part of the Biennale every year.
The Arsenale area of Venice is one of the largest military ports in Europe, and its existing structures provide backdrop to one part of the Biennale every year.
Photo by 
1 / 17
"The setting of the Arsenale is a beautiful way to maximize the character of each participant. People come here and meet architecture, and architecture meets people," said Biennale Director Kazuyo Sejima at one of the symposiums held on Saturday.  One gre
"The setting of the Arsenale is a beautiful way to maximize the character of each participant. People come here and meet architecture, and architecture meets people," said Biennale Director Kazuyo Sejima at one of the symposiums held on Saturday.  One great Sejima highlight of the biennale not to be missed: if you don your 3D glasses in the Wim Wenders pavilion, you can watch her and Nishizawa freewheel gleefully through their Rolex Learning Center in Switzerland...on segways.
Photo by 
2 / 17
The opening piece, "The Boy Hidden in a Fish" by Chilean artists Smiljan Radic and Marcela Correa, was inspired by the need for protection and refuge after the earthquake. A stoic, yet peaceful sanctuary, it was constructed from a solid granite shell and
The opening piece, "The Boy Hidden in a Fish" by Chilean artists Smiljan Radic and Marcela Correa, was inspired by the need for protection and refuge after the earthquake. A stoic, yet peaceful sanctuary, it was constructed from a solid granite shell and a cedar wood box that creates a inhabitable void at the intersection.
Photo by 
3 / 17
As I entered the third room, the air was heavy with the sense of precariousness. Anton Garcia-Abril & Ensamble Studio constructed 'Balancing Act,' two weighty, horizontal structures that incise the space diagonally and counteract the existing columns of t
As I entered the third room, the air was heavy with the sense of precariousness. Anton Garcia-Abril & Ensamble Studio constructed 'Balancing Act,' two weighty, horizontal structures that incise the space diagonally and counteract the existing columns of the Arsenale building.
Photo by 
4 / 17
On one end of the top piece sits a boulder; the other end seems to be supported by a giant spring. Whether or not the gravitational force of the former is equal to the normal force of the latter, the visitor feels unsettled and awe-inspired while traversi
On one end of the top piece sits a boulder; the other end seems to be supported by a giant spring. Whether or not the gravitational force of the former is equal to the normal force of the latter, the visitor feels unsettled and awe-inspired while traversing the room.
Photo by 
5 / 17
Transsolar + Tetsuo Kondo Architects from Germany created a cloud at building scale by mechanically controlling the heat and humidity at different heights. The path snakes through the cloud and leans against the existing columns for support, allowing peop
Transsolar + Tetsuo Kondo Architects from Germany created a cloud at building scale by mechanically controlling the heat and humidity at different heights. The path snakes through the cloud and leans against the existing columns for support, allowing people to experience it from below, within, and above.
Photo by 
6 / 17
Through climate engineering, the bottom layer is kept at 18 degrees Celsius and 40 percent relative humidity; the middle layer, at the bulk of the cloud, is a warmer 25 degrees at 100 percent humidity; the top layer is the hottest, at 36 degrees and 60 pe
Through climate engineering, the bottom layer is kept at 18 degrees Celsius and 40 percent relative humidity; the middle layer, at the bulk of the cloud, is a warmer 25 degrees at 100 percent humidity; the top layer is the hottest, at 36 degrees and 60 percent humidity.
Photo by 
7 / 17
Designed by architecten de vylder vinck taillieu, the concept of this house is to combine seven different houses into one. With a reflective mirror as the base, playful sketch models and intricate plan/section drawings on the other side, one starts to see
Designed by architecten de vylder vinck taillieu, the concept of this house is to combine seven different houses into one. With a reflective mirror as the base, playful sketch models and intricate plan/section drawings on the other side, one starts to see the process of how all of the different roof angles and interior spaces are resolved inside the volume.
Photo by 
8 / 17
So...do you see it? Titled 'Architecture as air: study for chateau la coste' by junya.ishigami+associates, the project is supposed to be a full-size study of a building, with specially designed columns that are "rather void-like...and dissolve into the tr
So...do you see it? Titled 'Architecture as air: study for chateau la coste' by junya.ishigami+associates, the project is supposed to be a full-size study of a building, with specially designed columns that are "rather void-like...and dissolve into the transparent space." At first, I raised my eyebrows because I thought I was being fooled, staring at the emperor in his new clothes. Later, I found out that the delicacies of the structure had been demolished only days earlier by a mischievous Venetian feline.
Photo by 
9 / 17
Studio Mumbai prepared a work-place to showcase models, large-scale mockups, and sketches, highlighting traditional materials and building techniques.
Studio Mumbai prepared a work-place to showcase models, large-scale mockups, and sketches, highlighting traditional materials and building techniques.
Photo by 
10 / 17
Titled "Thebuildingwhichneverdies," the potentially biomimetic and borderline grotesque sculpture perplexes visitors in the pavilion by French architects R&Sie(n).
Titled "Thebuildingwhichneverdies," the potentially biomimetic and borderline grotesque sculpture perplexes visitors in the pavilion by French architects R&Sie(n).
Photo by 
11 / 17
Amateur Architecture Studio of China displays their 'Decay of a Dome,' the exploration of a western form with traditionally Chinese construction techniques.
Amateur Architecture Studio of China displays their 'Decay of a Dome,' the exploration of a western form with traditionally Chinese construction techniques.
Photo by 
12 / 17
Hans Ulrich Obrist was invited by Kazuyo Sejima to interview all of the Biennale participants, an endeavor modeled after the 24-Hour Interview Marathon that launched the 2006 Serpentine Gallery. I sat here for awhile in this transformed audio/visual libra
Hans Ulrich Obrist was invited by Kazuyo Sejima to interview all of the Biennale participants, an endeavor modeled after the 24-Hour Interview Marathon that launched the 2006 Serpentine Gallery. I sat here for awhile in this transformed audio/visual library, where Obrist framed a place where visitors can 'meet' the architects while resting their weary limbs.
Photo by 
13 / 17
This grouping of random objects and spaces, assembled by Mark Pimlott and Tony Fretton, is supposed to evoke both and urban and interior space, somewhere in between a piazza and a salone. A <i>piazzasalone</i>, if you will.
This grouping of random objects and spaces, assembled by Mark Pimlott and Tony Fretton, is supposed to evoke both and urban and interior space, somewhere in between a piazza and a salone. A piazzasalone, if you will.
Photo by 
14 / 17
Berger&Berger designed 'ca va', a prefabricated movie theater with reference to physical deformations of acoustic compositions, as well as the meeting of films and their audience.
Berger&Berger designed 'ca va', a prefabricated movie theater with reference to physical deformations of acoustic compositions, as well as the meeting of films and their audience.
Photo by 
15 / 17
Immense models of the Taichung Metropolitan Opera House in Taiwan display the organic concept of intermeshing horizontal and vertical tubes in Toyo Ito's pavilion.
Immense models of the Taichung Metropolitan Opera House in Taiwan display the organic concept of intermeshing horizontal and vertical tubes in Toyo Ito's pavilion.
Photo by 
16 / 17
My favorite exhibit of the Arsenale, "The Forty Part Motet," is quite arguably the least architectural. Artist Janet Cardiff placed 40 speakers strategically around the space in an oval, with each speaker broadcasting the voice of one chorus member. I slo
My favorite exhibit of the Arsenale, "The Forty Part Motet," is quite arguably the least architectural. Artist Janet Cardiff placed 40 speakers strategically around the space in an oval, with each speaker broadcasting the voice of one chorus member. I slowly walked the perimeter of the oval, trying to pluck out each individual voice at a time—which became very intricate because melodies and echos often jumped from one individual to another. But when standing in the center, one can hear the entire beautiful—even sculptural—chorale by the Renaissance composer Thomas Tallis, coming together all at once.
Photo by 
17 / 17
The Arsenale area of Venice is one of the largest military ports in Europe, and its existing structures provide backdrop to one part of the Biennale every year.
The Arsenale area of Venice is one of the largest military ports in Europe, and its existing structures provide backdrop to one part of the Biennale every year.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

45 dva 2270 persp1 cmyk 0
The prospect of retirement doesn’t just signal the end of a career; it offers the chance to recalibrate and re-prioritize in life.
July 25, 2016
18
You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
angular
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016