Curated by Grafton Architects founders Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale is open to the public until 27 November 2018. It is titled Freespace, in celebration of the gifts that architects offer the public for free through their designs.
Many of the participants in the exhibition have chosen to explore this theme by constructing full-scale mockups of parts of their buildings. This has resulted in an array of interactive installations, from a canopy you stick your head into, to a nook you can clamber inside.
Here’s our guide to the top 10:
London architect Alison Brooks has built four different “inhabitable” totems inside the Arsenale, each designed to offer a different experience of light and volume. One contains a staircase, while another is lined with concealed mirrors.
Flores & Prats
Spanish studio Flores & Prats has attempted to recreate a beam of sunlight from its Sala Beckett theatre conversion in Barcelona, by reconstructing part of the space around a window inside the Arsenale. A bench creates a space for visitors to sit and enjoy the light as it changes across the day.
Notion of Motion
This imposing metal structure is a rework of a steel house completed by Matharoo Associates in New Delhi. Visitors are invited to climb up onto its surfaces, to see how its mirrored surfaces create the illusion of large space.
Indonesian architect Andra Matin is showcasing his work inside a boxy structure with an impressive woven facade. Inside, you climb up and down staircases, while being presented with a range of smaller-scale models.
Folding Landscape/East and West
O’Donnell + Tuomey
Irish firm O’Donnell + Tuomey has built a “Siamese twin form” that merges elements of two projects – a completed civic space in Ireland and a competition entry for China. It integrates a series of pathways, so visitors can climb over it in a number of ways.
Portuguese studio Aires Mateus invites biennale visitors to stick their heads inside this metal form raised up on stilts. Inside, it contains greenery that offers a distinctive smell.
Diébédo Francis Kéré is showcasing a lounge structure he designed for Berlin’s former Tempelhof Airport, which is currently being used as a refugee centre. His aim is to provider social spaces where the community can interact with one another in comfort.
How to Legalise Spontaneously Built Illegal Structures
Amateur Architecture Studio
Over in the Central Pavilion, the Wang Shu-led Amateur Architecture Studio is showing a prototype of a “gap space” – a type of illegal structure that often pops up in China’s urban villages, and which the studio believes could offer new opportunities.
This vibrant installation by German architects Saurbruch Hutton shows an abstract take on the colourful M9 Museum, a proposal by Berlin studio Saurbruch Hutton. Inside, visitors are invited to sit down and take in a series of black and white photographs of the site’s heritage.
Protective Roof over Moya Spring Water Source
Jensen & Skodvin
Jensen and Skodvin’s metal structure gives visitors the chance to walk under a scaled-down reconstruction of a canopy the studio designed for a waterway in a Chinese forest. Visitors are invited to walk down the centre of the model and see the shelter from underneath.
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