The 16th Venice Architecture Biennale, curated by Yvonne Farrell (Ireland, 1951) and Shelley McNamara (Ireland, 1952), otherwise known as Grafton Architects, has opened to the public under the title ‘FreeSpace.’ The exhibition emphasizes the capacity of architecture to be generous without ceasing to be functional, while inviting a total of 71 architects to put forward their own interpretations of the concept ‘FreeSpace.’ Apart from the honors bestowed on Kenneth Frampton, the Swiss Pavilion, and Souto de Moura’s proposal – recipients of the Golden Lion – this year’s Biennale will be remembered for being the first one ever to bring in the Vatican as a participant. The Holy See’s participation is curated by Francesco Dal Co, who has invited ten architects of distinction to design small chapels scattered within a woodland on the Venetian island of San Giorgio Maggiore. Standing out among the resulting ten temples are Souto de Moura’s tribute to ancient monoliths; Norman Foster’s ensemble of slanting wooden slats
held up by means of tensegrity; the
proud cross-shaped skeleton of stainless steel by Carla Juaçaba; and the ‘mission style’ chapel by Flores & Prats.
The curators decided to free up the interior space of the Arsenale and focus attention on the installations of the 71 participants, who offer their own particular interpretations of the concept of ‘FreeSpace.’
The Swiss Pavilion explores scale; the Nordic one plays with bubbles; the Australian Pavilion harbors an ecosystem; and that of Spain takes the form of a huge built fanzine, with 143 proposals by students.