22. Vara Pavilion
Architects: Pezo von Ellrichshausen (Mauricio Pezo & Sofia von Ellrichshausen). Collaborators: Susan Conger-Austin, Diego Perez, Anton Zu Knyphausen, Iven Peh, Daniel Andersson, Teresa Correia, Sarah Biffa, Thomas Patrix. Production: Solo Galerie, Paris (Christian Bourdais & Eva Albarran). Support: Knauf Build Beyond, Fundacion Chile Profundo, Fundacion Cosmos and Chilean Government (Consejo Nacional de la Cultura y las Artes) Construction: Impresa Edile Fabris Danilo, Padova.
Pezo von Ellrichshausen’s Vara Pavilion for the 2016 Venice Biennale is described by it’s architects as “a series of exteriors within other exteriors.” Breaking down this crypticness, what emerges is a maze-like complex of circles – ten of them – formed with steel, cement, and painted plaster, which collectively create a series of walls, but no roof, thus forming a pavilion that is open to the elements from above.
The 324 square meter pavilion’s title, “vara,” refers to an imprecise and obsolete Spanish unit of measurement. It was employed during the Spanish conquering of the Americas to trace and measure the land. Each of circles of the Vara Pavilion is a diameter of the unit, ranging from two to eleven.
Pezo and Ellrichshausen state that “the resulting sequence of spaces can be understood both as a traditional open plan – with several accesses [but] without any shape, hierarchy or predominant direction – and also as a limited arrangement of singular segments.” The interior spaces vary from “narrow and acute concavities” to “wide but irregular convex room” and “from overexposed cores to dark corners.”