Venice Biennale of Architecture

 

The “other face” of the celebrated Biennale arte of Venezia is not – as many think – the yearly Mostra del cinema, but the Biennale di architettura expo that alternates every two year with its art-focused sibling. Established as a separate entity in 1980 after several years during which it was in fact part of Biennale arte, this event focuses on architecture and is today probably the most important gathering of designers and architects worldwide.

The Biennale di architettura is an imposing affair, so jam-packed with interesting contents, conferences and exhibitions that it requires a six-months duration to allow all the international visitors to comfortably experience it. Starting in 2014, the organization has tried to better connect this event with its artistic counterpart: thus it is possible to see dance, music and theatre performances around and within the architectural installations, even if they remain just a pleasant addition instead of a major subject. Each year the Biennale di architettura has a different theme, which is loosely interpreted by the many participating countries (65 of them in 2014) with different approaches, contributing to a really mind-opening experience for the visitors. While the details of the organization evolve constantly, the structure of the event remains roughly the same.

The main event is composed of a series of halls dedicated to the national pavilions – often set up over a huge gardenlike area – each of them presenting the work of several architects and designers. A separate building is reserved to the Italian contingent, that frequently takes up just as much space as the other countries put together given the incredible concentration of architectural firms within Italy. These two main sub-events are then often joined by one or two more exhibitions.