No Architects

In which I go to the Venice Architecture Biennial, so you don’t have to.

I only made the Giardini part — ie. the one with the national pavilions and the central exhibition. I lost my ticket and thus couldn’t go to the Arsenale exhibition. A loss I’ll have to cope with.

First thing I saw was a giant playground with pink bouncy castles, that didn’t look like castles but rather amorphous blobs, as well as a bunch of small wooden bridges over nothing, with lights in them. Hey kids! Architecture!

A pretty auspicious start. Most of what was on display basically came across as college poster shows with a bigger budget. Padded generously in Buzzwords: sustainability, globalisation, convergence, hybridization, performative space, utopia; Theoretical obfuscation: ontological pluralities, heterogenous systems, urban acupuncture, nodes of contact, spaces of conflict; “Clever” Puns and constructions: Welfairytales, ecoMachines, Insta-Lator, UrbanScan, doubleNegatives; and Sloganeering: ‘What Is Your Fantastic Place?’ ‘New Geography of Living’, ‘Everyville’, the ‘Continous Monument…’

Ok, so what are we talking about? This is a perfectly representative example: “This is a space created and shaped through recursive computational algorithms”, which apparently means that graphs cleverly derived from “conflicts between… traded commodities on major financial markets”, such as the use of crops for food or fuel, are used to create a three-dimensional structure. Somehow, it yields this:

Take a good look at it. It may be the future of architecture.

The environment was, naturally, a big theme for many of these installations. Apparently these represent solutions to the problems faced by architects and city planners in the 21st Century:
I believe the latter are the ecoMachines.

At least you gotta give the Danish pavilion points for cheek — positing the Roskilde Festival as a model for making dense city centres liveable:

Moving on, what do we find?

This, my friends, is the Insta-Lator. Stuff hanging from the ceiling! Made by robots! “…in [a] continuing effort to resist the limiting presuppositions and economic flimflam embedded in commercial software and existing architectural fabrication techniques…”. OK, but why can’t I shake this strange feeling of déja vu?

Which reminds me: when you’re doing an architectural show and feel that drawings and models and such are a bit outmoded, but still need to fill a big space, what’s the answer? Fill it with geometrical framework!
Vitruvius and all that, you know? Except with chairs or giant q-tips stuck on the ends.

What have we here? A project dealing with real, down-to-Earth, Joe Sixpack-type stuff that we can all understand — shipping containers:

Wait a minute. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?
Ah! That’s more like it.

And here’s ‘Upload City’. Which offers the unique experience of… crashing in limp silver beanbags, watching YouTube clips on minute laptop screens!

I don’t even know what this is:

But lest you think that everyone is on their high horse, there’s also plenty of interactive stuff going on. For real! This one even has an i-ching theme to it:

…and some glasses stacked between black cardboard boxes, circled with rocks. All part of the ‘Atlas’:

This one has… wait for it… PostIt notes! For use at your leisure:

At least this one has the right idea:

At the end of the day, I guess the Brazilian Pavilion put it best:

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