While I was studying abroad in Italy, my studio class took a trip to Venice. The trip was not only to see Venice (which just happened to be on my bucket list) but also to visit the Biennale Architettura. The Biennale is an exhibition of art, architecture, music, dance, and more. Each year, the exhibition has a main topic which all the submissions’ subject matter relates to. A curator, who is usually a well-known and successful architect or designer, carefully chooses which pieces will be exhibited.

I visited the Biennale in the fall of 2016, in which the main topic was “Reporting from the Front” and the curator was Alejandro Aravena. It included 88 participants from 37 countries. This was the first year that the countries of the Philippines, Nigeria, Seychelles, and Yemen had participated. Overall, my visit turned out better than I had expected it to be and I learned a lot from the exhibition.

“Reporting from the Front” is an interesting topic in that it’s not specifically narrowed down to one issue that participants were required to focus on. Instead, it broadens the horizon and asked designers to respond to whichever cultural or artistic issues they think need to be addressed. It highlighted the fact that architecture does not just have one agenda, but many that overlap with each discipline that designers are involved in. The exhibitions focused on a range of issues such a crime, inequality, and pollution to name a few.

photo of sign reading "is it possible to create a public space in a private comission?"
A photo of one of the many thought provoking questions.

While the subject matter of the exhibition was thought-provoking and a bit bleak, there were many that were done very well. I loved Switzerland’s design called “Incidental Space” which looked sort of like a mix between a cloud and a cave. Another favorite was Australia’s design titled “The Pool” which was just a pool that visitors could swim in. I would definitely recommend a trip to the Venice Biennale from anyone up for a little adventure and a lot of inspiration.

author in a white space
Incidental space​​


concrete and glass Venezeula pavilion
Venezuela's Pavilion

by Mackenzie Kidwell

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