Reporting from the front: 2016 Belgian and Czech+Slovak Pavilions at the Venice Biennale

Craftmanship and scarcity are this year’s themes for the Belgian National Pavilion, curated by BRAVURE – architecten De Vydler Vink Tailleu, Doorzon and Filip Dujardin. On the other hand, the Czech and Slovak Pavilion focuses on the issue of the political load of architectural heritage and its preservation.

 

Filip Dujardin, ‘memorial I’ © Filip Dujardin

 

This year’s Belgian National Pavilion has taken craftmanship and scarcity as main theme for the exhibits. The exhibition’s title is Craft(wo)manship and the city, and has been organized by four important representatives of Belgium architecture: the Flanders Architecture Institute (VAi) and BRAVOURE, a curatorial team made up of Architecten De Vylder Vinck Taillieu, doorzon intereiurarchitecten and photographer Filip Dujardin.

BRAVOURE brings together fragments of thirteen projects by a same number of guest-architects: through a copy of each fragment (scale 1:1) and a serie of images they will show how craftsmanship can shape space, also exploring what craftsmanship can mean during a period of economic scarcity.


 

Practical information

Venice Architecture Biennale 2016
15th International Architecture Exhibition
May 28 – November 27, 2016
Venice, Giardini – Arsenale, from
Italy

 


The Czech and Slovak Pavilion, on the other hand, focuses on another current issue of local architecture: how to preserve, or not, the communist architectural heritage present in both countries.

Entitled The Care for Architecture: Asking the Arché of Architecture to Dance, the National Pavilion has been commisioned by Monika Mitášová and Monika Palcová, curated in collaboration with the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava and University in Trnava, featuring exhibits by Benjamín Brádnanský, Petr Hájek, Vít Halada, Ján Studený and Marián Zervan.

 

"The Care for Architecture: Asking the Arché of Architecture to Dance" © Ben Markel / Dezeen

“The Care for Architecture: Asking the Arché of Architecture to Dance” © Ben Markel / Dezeen

 

The Pavilion’s main exhibit is a three-dimensional model of the extension to the Slovak National Gallery,  raised on stilts to give a new perspective on the building, allowing visitors to get a sense of its arrangement of galleries, amphitheatres and courtyard.

BELGIAN PAVILION
CRAFT(WO)MANSHIP AND THE CITY

Architecten de vylder vinck taillieu, doorzon interieurarchitecten and the architectural photographer/artist Filip Dujardin make up the BRAVOURE team, which has devised the exhibition concept for the Belgian pavilion. Architect Jan De Vylder points to the importance of the economic added value that craftsmanship brings to architecture: “We are exploring what craftsmanship can mean during a period of economic scarcity. Dealing with this scarcity demands a high level of precision.”

 

Maarschalk Gerardstraat 5, Antwerp, 2014 © Eagles of Architecture

Maarschalk Gerardstraat 5, Antwerp, 2014 © Eagles of Architecture

 

The Flanders Architecture Institute is no stranger to organising the Belgian contribution to the International Architecture Exhibition. It has been coordinating the Belgian entry every four years since 2004, on a rotating basis with the French Community. The central theme this year is ‘craftsmanship’. “We are not using this term simply to refer to age-old crafts”, explains Christoph Grafe, Director of the Flanders Architecture Institute. “We are using it to explore opportunities for building and producing in partnership. How can designers and makers join forces to shape a city?”

 

 

Scouting premises, Blankenberge, 2008 © architecten Els Claessens en Tania Vandenbussche

Scouting premises, Blankenberge, 2008 © architecten Els Claessens en Tania Vandenbussche

Scouting premises, Blankenberge, 2008 © architecten Els Claessens en Tania Vandenbussche

Scouting premises, Blankenberge, 2008 © architecten Els Claessens en Tania Vandenbussche

 

In order to illustrate its vision of craftsmanship, BRAVOURE will be exhibiting fragments of thirteen representative projects from thirteen Flemish architects in the Belgian pavilion. Full-size replicas will be used to demonstrate how scarcity can lead to craftsmanship. De Vylder explains: “The fragment is exhibited as it really is. At the same time, it is cut out of its context, which ultimately gives it a new dimension.”

Thirteen architectural firms have contributed to the exhibition: De Smet Vermeulen architecten, Philippe Vander Maren – Richard Venlet, Wim Goes Architectuur, architecten Els Claessens en Tania Vandenbussche, Eagles of Architecture, Jo Van Den Berghe – architect, BURO II & ARCHI+I, Robbrecht en Daem architecten i.s.m. Arch & Teco, OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen, Laura Muyldermans + Atelier Starzak Strebicki, Gijs Van Vaerenbergh, Stéphane Beel Architects and Architectenbureau Bart Dehaene – Sileghem & Partners in collaboration with Ante Timmermans.

 

"Craft(wo)manship and the city" Belgian Pavilion Venice 2016 © Filip Dujardin

“Craft(wo)manship and the city” Belgian Pavilion Venice 2016 © Filip Dujardin

"Craft(wo)manship and the city" Belgian Pavilion Venice 2016 © Filip Dujardin

“Craft(wo)manship and the city” Belgian Pavilion Venice 2016 © Filip Dujardin

"Craft(wo)manship and the city" Belgian Pavilion Venice 2016 © Filip Dujardin

“Craft(wo)manship and the city” Belgian Pavilion Venice 2016 © Filip Dujardin

"Craft(wo)manship and the city" Belgian Pavilion Venice 2016 © Filip Dujardin

“Craft(wo)manship and the city” Belgian Pavilion Venice 2016 © Filip Dujardin

"Craft(wo)manship and the city" Belgian Pavilion Venice 2016 © Filip Dujardin

“Craft(wo)manship and the city” Belgian Pavilion Venice 2016 © Filip Dujardin

"Craft(wo)manship and the city" Belgian Pavilion Venice 2016 © Filip Dujardin

“Craft(wo)manship and the city” Belgian Pavilion Venice 2016 © Filip Dujardin

"Craft(wo)manship and the city" Belgian Pavilion Venice 2016 © Filip Dujardin

“Craft(wo)manship and the city” Belgian Pavilion Venice 2016 © Filip Dujardin

"Craft(wo)manship and the city" Belgian Pavilion Venice 2016 © Filip Dujardin

“Craft(wo)manship and the city” Belgian Pavilion Venice 2016 © Filip Dujardin

 

CZECH AND SLOVAK PAVILION
THE CARE FOT ARCHITETURE: ASKING THE ARCHÉ OF ARCHITECTURE TO DANCE
information and text via Dezeen

As quoted by architecture magazine Dezeen, pavilion commisioner Monika Mitášová believes there needs to be a public reassessment of architecture produced across central and eastern Europe during the 1960s and 1970s. She said it is vital to differentiate between the work of “state architects” sympathetic to the communist regime, and those searching for alternatives. “For us it is a representation of our heritage, it’s our fight for care about this heritage,” said Vit Halada, one of the architects behind the project,  “we are fighting for acceptance.”

 

"The Care for Architecture: Asking the Arché of Architecture to Dance" © Ben Markel / Dezeen

“The Care for Architecture: Asking the Arché of Architecture to Dance” © Ben Markel / Dezeen

"The Care for Architecture: Asking the Arché of Architecture to Dance" © Luke Hayes / Dezeen

“The Care for Architecture: Asking the Arché of Architecture to Dance” © Luke Hayes / Dezeen

 

A bright red model of the Slovak National Gallery forms the centrepiece of the Czech and Slovak Pavilion, which questions whether the countries’ Soviet architecture should be saved or demolished. Entitled The Care for Architecture: Asking the Arché of Architecture to Dance, the Biennale exhibition questions whether buildings like the extension to the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava can ever be disassociated from the political regime. Designed by Slovak architect Vladimír Dedeček in the 1960s and built in the 1970s, the bridging gallery building is seen by many as a symbol of the country’s communist era, so plans for its renovation have been contentious.

 

"The Care for Architecture: Asking the Arché of Architecture to Dance" © Luke Hayes / Dezeen

“The Care for Architecture: Asking the Arché of Architecture to Dance” © Luke Hayes / Dezeen

 

“We are fighting in [formerly] communist countries with the opinion that buildings that were built in the late Modern style are actually communist palaces and buildings that are associated with the regime,” explained Halada, “There is a lot of very negative opinion from ordinary people or even the informed public,” he told Dezeen. “They are trying to destroy this legacy and tear it down, because in their minds and in their opinions these buildings are too monumental, a celebration of the old regime, and they shouldn’t be allowed to live anymore.”

 

"The Care for Architecture: Asking the Arché of Architecture to Dance" © Luke Hayes / Dezeen

“The Care for Architecture: Asking the Arché of Architecture to Dance” © Luke Hayes / Dezeen

 

The broad spectrum of opinion the building receives from both Slovakian nationals and foreigners is represented by a series of films, played on wall-mounted screens. Different screens offer opposing strategies for the renovation of the building, which has been in a state of disrepair for a decade. One set dubbed the “fight wall” is dedicated to material related to the architects original design and the fight to preserve it, while the other is named the “dance wall” and contains proposals for its rejuvenation.


 

News source:  La Biennale di Venezia and Dezeen
Subscribe here to get weekly updates about architecture events and exhibitions.