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Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara announced the theme of the 2018 Venice Biennale as "Freespace"

Italy - Jun 8, 2017 - 16:59   6564 views

Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of Grafton Architects have announced the theme of the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale held at a press conference yesterday at the Biennale's headquarters at Ca’ Giustinian in Venice, Italy. Announced as "Freespace", the Irish curators Yvonne Farrell & Shelley McNamara and Paolo Baratta - President of Venice Biennale - outlined the details of the 16th International Architecture Exhibition that will take place from May 26th to November 25th 2018 in the Giardini and the Arsenale, and around other venues in Venice. 

The theme of the Freespace will drive forward "generosity of spirit" and focus on "architecture’s ability to provide free and additional spatial gifts to those who use it and on its ability to address the unspoken wishes of strangers," with their words. Here're some highlights from the theme of the exhibition: 

Arsenale 2010. Image © Giulio Squillacciotti, courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia

"Freespace describes a generosity of spirit and a sense of humanity at the core of architecture's agenda, focusing on the quality of space itself," said the curators. 

"Freespace celebrates architecture’s capacity to find additional and unexpected generosity in each project - even within the most private, defensive, exclusive or commercially restricted conditions."

"Freespace provides the opportunity to emphasise nature’s free gifts of light - sunlight and moonlight, air, gravity, materials - natural and man-made resources."

Arsenale 2010. Image © Giulio Squillacciotti, courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia

"Freespace encourages reviewing ways of thinking, new ways of seeing the world, of inventing solutions where architecture provides for the  well being and dignity of  each citizen of this fragile planet."

"Freespace can be a space for opportunity, a democratic space, un-programmed and free for uses not yet conceived. There is an exchange between people and buildings that happens, even if not intended or designed, so buildings themselves find ways of sharing and engaging with people over time, long after the architect has left the scene."

"Architecture has an active as well as a passive life. Freespace encompasses freedom to imagine, the free space of time and memory, binding past, present and future together, building on inherited cultural layers, weaving the archaic with the contemporary."

With the theme of Freespace, the Biennale Architettura 2018 will present for public scrutiny examples, proposals, elements - built or unbuilt - of work that exemplifies essential qualities of architecture which include the modulation, richness and materiality of surface; the orchestration and sequencing of movement, revealing  the embodied power and beauty of architecture.

Padiglione Centrale, Giardini. Image © Francesco Galli, courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia

The exhibition will feature a spatial, physical presence of a scale and quality, which will impact on the visitor, communicating architecture’s complex spatial nature.

The exhibition will invite emotional and intellectual engagement of the many who come to the Biennale in order to understand architecture more fully, to stimulate discussion on core architectural values and to celebrate architecture’s proven and enduring contribution to humanity.

"We believe that everyone has the right to benefit from architecture. The role of architecture is to give shelter to our bodies and to lift our spirits. A beautiful wall forming a street edge gives pleasure to the passer-by, even if they never go inside.  So too does a glimpse into a courtyard through an archway; or a place to lean against in the shade or a recess which offers protection from the wind and rain," detailed the curators. 

"We are interested in going beyond the visual, emphasizing the role of architecture in the choreography of daily life. We see the earth as Client. This brings with it long-lasting responsibilities. Architecture is the play of light, sun, shade, moon, air, wind, gravity in ways that reveal the mysteries of the world. All of these resources are free."

Sale d’Armi Nord, Arsenale. Image courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia

"It is examples of generosity and thoughtfulness in architecture throughout the world that will be celebrated in the 16th International Architecture Exhibition. We believe these qualities sustain the fundamental capacity of architecture to nurture and support meaningful contact between people and place. We focus our attention on these qualities because we consider that intrinsic to them are optimism and continuity. Architecture that embodies these qualities and does so with generosity and a desire for exchange is what we call Freespace."

"We invite all participants and every national pavilion to bring to Venice their Freespace, so together we may reveal the diversity, specificity and continuity in architecture based on people, place, time, history, to sustain the culture and relevance of architecture on this dynamic planet."

"As was the case for the previous editions of Biennale Architettura, we continue our investigation into the relationship between architecture and civil society. The divide between architecture and civil society, caused by the latter's increasing difficulty in expressing its own needs and finding appropriate answers, has led to dramatic urban developments whose main feature is the marked absence of public spaces, or the growth of other areas dominated by indifference in the suburbs and peripheries of our cities," said President Paolo Baratta.

Image © Giorgio Zucchiatti, courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia

"The absence of architecture makes the world poorer and diminishes the level of public welfare, otherwise reached by economic and demographic developments. To rediscover architecture means to renew a strong desire for the quality of the spaces where we live, which are a form of public wealth that needs to be constantly protected, renovated and created," Baratta added.

As usual, the 16th International Architecture Exhibition will also present the National Participations with their own exhibitions in the Pavilions at the Giardini and at the Arsenale, and in the historic city centre of Venice.

This edition will also include selected Collateral Events, presented by international institutions, which will present their exhibitions and initiatives in Venice concurrently with the 16th Exhibition.

Top image: Shelley McNamara (L) and Yvonne Farrell (R) of Grafton Architects in Barcelona on April 22, 2009 in Barcelona. Photo courtesy of AFP Photo/Lluis Gene.Gene/AFP/Getty Images.

> via Venice Architecture Biennale