La Biennale di Venezia di Architettura 2016 – Padiglione PAESI NORDICI (FINLANDIA-NORVEGIA-SVEZIA)

Sestiere Castello, Giardini della Biennale, Venice, Italy

17. Nordic PavilionIn Therapy – Nordic Countries Face to Face

Commissioner: ArkDes, The Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design (Sweden). Deputy Commissioner: The Finnish Museum of Architecture (Finland) and Nasjonalmuseet (Norway). Curator: David Basulto, James Taylor-Foster. Exhibitors: A group of architecture firms.

Venue: Giardini

A central impetus for this exhibition is to acknowledge the presence of the ‘ghosts’ of Nordic architecture – those architects, theorists and educators—the most famous of which are often described as ‘Modern Masters’—who continue to exert influence on contemporary practice and pedagogy. Indeed, one of the most prominent of these gures, the Norwegian Sverre Fehn, designed the Nordic Pavilion. This exhibition addresses a common challenge faced by Finns, Norwegians and Swedes today: how can a building (or an exhibition, in this instance) exist in a dialogue with its setting when that setting is so charged! For us, this ties into a broader question: how can architecture occupy a legacy while still making progress?

Recognizing Fehn’s original intentions to have the building entirely open, In Therapy treats the Pavilion as an extension of the public space of the Giardini. The central installation of the exhibition—a step-pyramid built using traditional construction techniques from Swedish pine—precisely mirrors the treads and risers of the existing staircase to create a profile-amphitheatre for critical debate and reflection. From concerns relating to demands on immigration and social integration, to an ageing population and realignment in a newly, or soon to be, post-industrial economy, In Therapy has brought together unconscious and conscious elements (the pyramid of projects and a collection of reflections, respectively) in order to tease out the connections and conflicts between architecture and Nordic society at large. It is architecture—in its broadest role as a spatial, social, and cultural practice—which sits at the center of this discourse.

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