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Nordic Pavilion will be transformed into an experimental co-housing project in Venice Biennale

Norway Architecture News - Jan 15, 2021 - 16:55   3421 views

Nordic Pavilion will be transformed into an experimental co-housing project in Venice Biennale

The Nordic Pavilion has shared details for its exhibition that will be displayed at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Architecture Biennale.

Nordic Pavilion's exhibition, named What We Share. A model for cohousing, will respond to this year’s theme of "How will we live together?" by transforming the pavilion into an experimental co-housing project. 

Norwegian architects Helen & Hard supported by a curatorial team from National Museum of Norway will present a framework for designing and building communities based on participation and sharing.

Nordic Pavilion will be transformed into an experimental co-housing project in Venice Biennale

Siv Helene Stangeland and Reinhard Kropf. Image © Fotorune

Selected by the Nordic Pavilion commissioners thanks to innovative work in the field of cohousing, Helen & Hard have developed the exhibition in collaboration with residents of the practice’s award-winning cohousing project Vindmøllebakken in Stavanger, Norway. 

At Vindmøllebakken the residents have relatively small but fully equipped apartments, several shared facilities and spaces, and a vibrant local democracy. 

At the Nordic Pavilion exhibition in Venice, Helen & Hard encourage the residents to develop a more radical version of communal housing: Which aspects of their private lives are they willing to move out of their apartments and share with other residents, and with the audience?

Nordic Pavilion will be transformed into an experimental co-housing project in Venice Biennale

The Nordic Pavilion. Image © Annar Bjorgli, The National Museum

"Being both architects and inhabitants of a cohousing community has made us aware of the potential that this housing model can offer in terms of tackling some of the societal and environmental challenges we face today," said partners and creative directors of Helen & Hard Siv Helene Stangeland and Reinhard Kropf.

"In Venice we want to explore this potential and demonstrate how the interplay between inhabitants and agencies involved can create an adaptable architecture."

Nordic Pavilion will be transformed into an experimental co-housing project in Venice Biennale

Vindm├©llebakken by Helen & Hard. Image © Sindre Ellingsen

"There is an urgent need in the housing sector to explore new models of communal living, and Helen & Hard’s way of working is innovative and highly relevant," said curator Martin Braathen of the National Museum of Norway. 

"In the past year, questions about our ways of living, and how they relate to loneliness, social encounters and community, have become even more acute."

Nordic Pavilion will be transformed into an experimental co-housing project in Venice Biennale

Vindm├©llebakken by Helen & Hard. Image © Sindre Ellingsen

The Nordic cohousing model combines owner-occupancy and individual living units with shared facilities and communal participation. The model was developed in the 1970s and has since spread around the world.

The exhibition "What we share" builds on the Nordic cohousing model. It is not a utopian vision, but a real proposal for building apartments, communal spaces and semi-private sharing zones in commercial housing projects. 

The project is based on close dialogue between architects and residents and implements an innovative open-source solid timber construction system developed in cooperation with the Swiss engineer Herman Blumer.

Visitors to the Pavilion in Venice will be able to walk through and explore a cross-section of a prototype cohousing project that will include communal and private areas designed to feel like real living spaces. Initiating a conversation about the social and political aspects of co-living, the exhibition also presents a video by artist Anna Ihle, who is a resident of Vindmøllebakken.

A comprehensive digital presentation of the project will also be available to view online during the exhibition.

The 17th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice will open to the public on 22 May 2021. The exhibition will end on 21 November 2021. 

The title of this year’s biennale is How will we live together?, a subject that encompasses ways in which architects can create new communities.

Martin Braathen and Joakim Skajaa, Gudrun Eidsvik and Karianne Ommundsen, and Cathrine Furuholmen, all from the National Museum of Norway, are serving as project curators, curators of education, and project manager, respectively.

Top image: Venice collage by Helen & Hard

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