by Vladimir BelogolovskyJun 09, 2021
One of the great advantages of events such as the Venice Architecture Biennale is that they provide a platform to actualise intangible concepts. The Biennale creates an ephemeral space for architecture to experiment with theoretical ideas and manifest them as built spaces. Take for instance the Danish Pavilion’s installation titled ‘Connectedness’. The idea behind the pavilion’s design is to experience a single, complete work that explores the concept of connectedness.
The pavilion aims to make visitors experience and see the invisible connections that exist between people, nature and the earth. The project curated by Marianne Krogh, an art historian, was designed and built by Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter spearheaded by Lene Tranberg, and Erik Frandsen, who are partners at the firm. Speaking exclusively with STIR, the collaborators engaged in a thought-provoking discourse about the cyclical nature of our habitat through their site-specific installation.
Of the many ideas to emerge from the conversation, one of the common threads was the nature of architecture itself. Krogh explained her curatorial engagement with the concept of connectedness and how architecture was the best method of communicating this inquiry saying, “Architecture is a common denominator for all life, movement, process, energy, pause, sensations and co-creation”. A part of the installation looked at integrating the two structures of the pavilion in order to create a singular space. This is an important aspect of the pavilion’s core concept, which is to create a microcosm that explains the closed circuit of our natural resources, which for the purpose of this installation is water.
There are a few specific materials and elements that were used in order to illustrate this closed circuit. There are distinct black pipes that run throughout the building with water collection tanks which are noticeable to visitors from a distance. In some ways, one’s visual experience begins before entering the pavilion. The installation has an experiential nature where visitors are encouraged to participate by interacting with the building and the surroundings, in a sensorially driven experience. Water in the pavilion is collected on-site, so parts of the experience are determined by climatic fluctuations, which will continuously alter the look and feel of the exhibition.
Once inside the pavilion’s large hall, one is confronted by dramatic floor-to-ceiling textiles that are part of the water collection system. The water, however, is not from the Venetian canals. It is collected rainwater, which is charted and graphically represented on site. The materials of the installation add a contrast to the element of water.
The second hall features a recycled wooden floor from a gymnasium. Here the floor seems to be floating over the collected water that is carried across the space in the black pipes. The overflow of this collected water is then taken to an herb garden. This is where visitors can become a part of the cyclic system by drinking a cup of tea brewed with leaves from the lemon verbena trees planted in the pavilion, trees which relay on the water of the cyclic system set up in the space.
While water is an integral part of the installation, Krogh, Tranberg and Frandsen were quick to highlight that the installation is not about water, but about the cycle of natural elements. It is important to read the presence of water in this installation as an allegory to highlight the invisible cycles that transpire every day around us. In spite of being a site-specific installation, Krogh and Tranberg did lament the possibility of recreating the system in a re-contextualised setting, which would see an alteration in the element used.
The axiom of the installation that emerged during the discussion, was the importance of staying with the contemporary problems, and not postulating imagined solutions. Frandsen emphasised this idea saying, “It is the kind of exhibition that does not have a solution but probably has many questions”. In many ways the pavilion is asking the question ‘how are we living together’ before proposing a response to curator Hashim Sarkis’ question ‘how will we live together’. This is an important intervention at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2021 that highlights the many ways in which architecture can be a tool to study current problems as opposed to grandstanding as a solution to a problem that has not been accurately stated.
Curated as a series of thoughtful engagements that enhance the contemporary debate and discussion on architecture, the STIRing Together series introduces readers to the many facets of the Venice Architecture Biennale 2021. Tracing the various adaptations and following the multitude of perspectives, the series carefully showcases some incredible projects and exhibits, highlighting the diversity and many discourses of the show.