EUROPA - Venice Biennale Architettura 2018
ESPAÑA, BELGIO and OLANDA – three pavilions with their own architectural identities and nation’s names displayed on their façades, a simplified but true tale of national pride. As a counterpoint to the current spirit of withdrawal into oneself we propose to change the country’s name on the pavilions’ façades by superimposing six letters; a common symbol celebrating openness, collaboration and courage that outshines nationalistic and bureaucratic powers, a geographical and humanist bond between the three countries and many others: EUROPA in bright and coloured neon lights.
The Spanish, Belgian and Dutch pavilions (in the geographical order from the left to the right) have decided to launch a joint Open Call to develop a site-specific project, that encourage collaboration, knowledge sharing, solidarity across borders beyond national demarcations, to question the methodological nationalism associated with the idea of an enclosed pavilion; and to reconsider the role, protocols and form of an opening ceremony and celebration.
Each Biennale is an opportunity for a country to show its ‘savoir-faire’ through cultural explorations, each edition is an occasion for a group of people to propose a certain state of mind of the moment inside their national pavilion.
Beside those events showcasing a result of a long and hardworking process, the pavilion buildings in themselves propose an imperturbable posture to evolution proposing a simplified but true tale of a certain form of national pride.
España – Belgio - Olanda
If one looks carefully at the three buildings, (this example could be applied to the other nations as well) one could make a cultural lecture of a nation through the pavilion’s architecture and through the set of the names popping up on their façades.
The ESPAÑA pavilion is in its current state, one the oldest of those present in the Giardini: the pavilion was refurbished only once during the 50’s. The exterior of the pavilion is presented as authentically Spanish : in Castilian brick, rustic and directly related to traditional architectures of central Spain. The inside proposes a white space totally disconnected from the outside and its national character. Unlike the other pavilions its name isn’t written in Italian but in Spanish with its recognisable letter Ñ.
The first pavilion built in the Giardini after the Italian one is the BELGIO pavilion (written in Italian). Several renovations from the inside and the outside have transformed the building through time adapting its form and space to successive layers of needs during the 20th century, desacralising and erasing at the same time the memory of the architects of the building and country’s symbols.
The Dutch pavilion is the only one having a specific architectural signature. The worldly known and acclaimed architect Rietveld has conceived the pavilion following the straight architectural principles of openness and light so characteristic of modern Dutch architecture of the 50’s. Unlike it’s neighbours, the name of the country is not situated above the entrance door, in a less dominant way OLANDA (written in Italian) in thin letters is set up on the right side of the entrance door.
Six Letters to Celebrate a Shared State of Mind
The fresh and unusual will of three pavilions to use a part of their budget
to organise an open call that opens up the possibility to go beyond the walls in every sense of the word, physically and symbolically, is seen by us as a unique opportunity to propose a bold yet subtle change in what the pavilion in itself represents and what message does it communicate to the passers by.
Rather than intervening on the outside space of the Giardini that already represents for us a ‘common ground’ to all the pavilions we propose to change the most visible yet generic national character of the buildings with a simple and light intervention on the façades.
The six letters of the country’s name on the pavilions façade are superimposed by six other letters that celebrates a state of mind of openness, collaboration and courage that goes over nationalistic and bureaucratic powers, a geographical and humanist bond between the three countries: EUROPA (written in Italian) in bright and coloured neon lights.
Red and yellow for ESPAÑA, black, yellow and red for BELGIO and red, white and blue for OLANDA.
EUROPA as six letters celebrating diversity under a common good, a complex yet incredibly rich territory to be shared and developed.
EUROPA as an ultra positivist message as a counterpoint to a defeatist current state of mind.