Posted by : Anand December 23, 2008

Venice Architecture Biennale 08

Towards Paradise by Gustafson Porter


Landscape architects Gustafson Porter created a secret garden called Towards Paradise at the Venice architecture biennale, which opened last month.


The garden, located in the overgrown grounds of a former Benedictine nunnery at the Arsenale, consists of two parts: Nourishment (above) features rustic flower and vegetable plots and leads to the second area, Enlightenment (below), featuring abstract landforms and a canopy held aloft by balloons.


The Biennale continues until 23 November.


See all our stories about the 2008 Venice Architecture Biennale.


Gustafson Porter and Gustafson Guthrie Nichol design the first major landscape installation at the Venice Biennale

Entitled Towards Paradise, the landscape installation will be sited at the end of the Arsenale at the 2008 Venice Biennale, within the overgrown grounds of the former Church of the Virgins, a Benedictine nunnery that was destroyed in the late 1800s. Gustafson Porter (London) and Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (Seattle) were commissioned by Biennale Director Aaron Betsky to create the installation, as part of the 11th International Architecture Exhibition - to be held from 14 September to 23 November 2008.


This is the first time that the architecture Biennale will feature a major landscape installation. Entitled “Out There: Architecture Beyond Building,” the premise for the 2008 Biennale is that “…architecture is not building… (it) is something else.”


Neil Porter, Director of Gustafson Porter, states, “Landscape architecture is a greatly neglected subject from a curatorial point of view, so we are hugely excited by the opportunity of engaging with visitors at the Biennale. The architecture of buildings and landscapes are clearly intrinsically linked and it is crucial that we work to uplift and enhance the built environment around us.”


“In his brief for the landscape installation, Betsky quoted Voltaire’s Candide, ‘Il faut cultiver notre jardin’, meaning ‘to cultivate one’s garden’, or to tend to one’s affairs. Towards Paradise is conceived as a contemporary allegory in the broadest sense. It will take the visitor on a journey through earthly dilemmas, evoking what has been lost and what can be gained.

Telling a story of past, present and future, the garden is composed of two main spaces linked by pathways cleared from the overgrowth of the abandoned garden. In ‘Nourishment’ one finds sustenance for body and soul. A clearing that has been carved from the bramble leads to ‘Enlightenment’ where a sculpted landform offers space for reflection, commemoration, conversation, contemplation and dreams of Paradise.

Design Statement from Gustafson Porter and Gustafson Guthrie Nichol

We design to express a concept subtly, without imposing it. The story of the landscape is emotive and intuitive, intended to be felt more than understood. Similar to the way we emotionally experience a work of art, individuals discover meaning through the intangible and ephemeral qualities of a landscape. When a place has intuitive meaning, it becomes valued and timeless.

In modern culture, the human senses receive a formidable amount of information each day. Many people are experiencing a sensory overload. As a response to these conditions, our work is designed to be calming, expansive, and accessible. We often seek to create serene spaces in which people may pause and reflect.

– Gustafson Porter (London) and Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (Seattle)


Venice Architecture Biennale: here are more designs for villas at the Next-Gene 20 project in Taiwan, which will feature 20 homes designed by Taiwanese and international architects. Above: Radix House by Shu-Chang Kung


More info and images in our earlier story. Above: Ridge House by Hailim Suh


The project was launched in Venice during the architecture biennale last week. Above: FlexiVilla by Toshiko Mori


Above: Triptych House by Yung Ho Chang


Above: Villa Palladio by IaN+


Above: House Aurum by Fernando Menis

Above: Architecture Farm by Akihisa Hirata


Above: Terra Vista by David Chun-Tei Tseng


Above: Cocoon by Kris Yao


Above: The Elf on the hilltop by Wen-Chieh Chiu


Above: The House Q – In Phrase of Stratus by Kyle Chia-Kai Yang


Above: Chromosome-H by Hsueh-Yi Chien


Above: Z-house by Irving Hung-Hui Huang


Above: Floating Courtyard by Ray Chen


Above: Monsoon and the earthworms by Sheng-Yuan Huang


Above: - Calligraphic House by Yu-Tung Liu.


Venice Architecture Biennale: Architect Greg Lynn has won the Golden Lion for the Best Installation Project in the International Exhibition at the biennale, for a series of furniture made from recycled children’s toys.


The other award winners were: Golden Lion for Best National Participation to Poland (Pavilion at Giardini) for Hotel Polonia; and Silver Lion for Promising Young Architect in the International Exhibition to Chilean group Elemental (Padiglione Italia at Giardini, Experimental Architecture).


Frank Gehry won the Golden Lion for Lifetime Archievement.


Lynn’s Recycled Toy Furniture is displayed at the Corderie dell’Arsenale. Watch a video about the project here, or click here to donate unwanted toys to the project.


See more projects from the Arsenale in our earlier story.


Here is the full text of the annoucement made by the Biennale yesterday:

La Biennale di Venezia 11th International Architecture Exhibition

The Official Awards have been conferred

The International Jury of the 11th International Architecture Exhibition, presided by Jeffrey Kipnis (USA), critic and lecturer at the University of Ohio, and comprised of: Paola Antonelli (Italy), curator of the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York; Max Hollein (Austria), director of the Städelsches Kunstinstitut and of the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt; Farshid Moussavi (Iran), founder of Foreign Office Architecture in London and lecturer at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design; Luigi Prestinenza Puglisi (Italy), critic, historian and lecturer, specialized in urban planning, and a teacher of History of Contemporary Architecture at the Università di Roma La Sapienza, has decided to confer the official awards for the 11th Architecture Exhibition as follow:

Golden Lion for Best National Participation to Polonia (Pavilion at Giardini) Hotel Polonia. The afterlife of buildings Nicolas Grospierre, Kobas Laksa. Commissioner: Agnieszka Morawińska. Curators: Grzegorz Piątek, Jarosław Trybuś. Assistant Commissioner: Zofia Machnicka.

Golden Lion for the Best Installation Project in the International Exhibition to Greg Lynn Form (Usa, Corderie dell’Arsenale, Installations)
Recycled Toys Furniture

Silver Lion for a Promising Young Architect in the International Exhibition to Chilean group Elemental (Padiglione Italia at Giardini, Experimental Architecture)

The Awards and Opening Ceremony of the 11th International Exhibition takes place today September, the 13th in Venice at Teatro Piccolo, Arsenale at 5 PM also with the conferral of the following prizes:

Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement to Frank O. Gehry

Special Golden Lion for lifetime achievement to a historian of Architecture to James S. Ackerman on the Fifth Centennial of the birth of Andrea Palladio.

Golden Lions attribuited by the Board of the Foundation La Biennale di Venezia, chaired by Paolo Baratta and on the proposal of the Director, Aaron Betsky.

The motivations of the International Jury

Golden Lion for Best National Participation

In the Polish pavilion, the Jury found a remarkable mix of wit, technology and intelligent speculation gathered to produce a polemic about the probable life-cycle of buildings in the context of the current problems facing cities, particularly those outside of first world economies. Hovering between art and architectural manifesto, the pavilion stimulated the imagination and interpretation of the jury members in a variety of different directions. Thus it best rose to the difficult challenge of responding to the spirit of the theme of the Biennale while evidencing an intimate loyalty to the nation it represents.

Golden Lion for the Best Installation Project in the International Exhibition

The jury found Greg Lynn’s experimental recycled-toys furniture to best embody the Biennale theme of Out There: Architecture Beyond building. The jury took interest in those projects in which experimentation took on the character of research, and thus to redirect the naïve ambition to achieve a novel solution to a difficult problem in a single daring leap toward increasing the body of knowledge and technique that the entire field can continue to develop. Though remaining at the level of a provocation rather than a prototype, the recycled-toy furniture advances the digital-form problem to a new level that intrinsically engages traditional architectural concerns such as meaning, aesthetics, and advancing fabrication technology with the recycling, an issue of broad, immediate and pressing concern.

Silver Lion for a Promising Young Architect in the International Exhibition (interpreted as the best work by a lesser known architectural practice)

The jury took note of the large number of projects by architects of every generation that showed an renewed interest in direct engagement with current real-world problems such as the environment, poverty and political strife. To encourage further development of that ethic, this prize was awarded to Elemental of Chile. The jury felt that the exhibited project showed an extraordinary mix of expert architectural intelligence in finance, construction and design with sensitivity to the local circumstance to produce a project that would not only provide low cost housing, but would hold out the real promise of a better economic future for its constituency


Venice Architecture Biennale: here are some snaps of Quarto Ponte sul Canal Grande (Fourth Bridge on the Grand Canal) by architect Santiago Calatrava, which opened in Venice yesterday.


The bridge links the train station to Piazzale Roma.







Here are some photos of the pavilions and installations at the Giardini, one of the two main venues of the Venice Architecture Biennale which opened this weekend (see our photos of the installations at the Arsenale in our earlier story). Above: Swiss pavilion.


Above: Japanese pavilion - greenhouses by Junya Ishigami.


Above: the Estonians have installed an oil pipeline as their contribution.


Above: German pavilion.


Above: Swiss pavilion again.


Above: Interbreeding Field by Li H Lu.


Plants are a big theme this year. Above: vegetables at the US pavilion.


Above: Fantastic Norway caravan.


Above: installation by Ai Weiwei and Herzog de Meuron in the Italian pavilion - one of a series of installations by various architects, artists and designers under the heading Masters of the Experiment.


Above: the Belgian pavilion has confetti on the floor, and that’s about all.


Above: bench.


Above: bridge.


Above: the Italian pavilion (which no longer displays Italian architecture).


Above: Spanish pavilion.


Above: Shelter for God.


Above: the bridge on the route between the Giardini and the Arsenale.


Venice Architecture Biennale: Dutch architects NL present this series of images in the Italian Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale.


Fly United - go with the flow!


Google Forest - the sea levels rise. Less land is available. How can we increase the capacity of our cities?


Flower Power - can we move from what the Dutch call “pollution of the horizon” to “heroic” configurations? Is it possible to create an Eiffel Tower, Atomium or St Louis Arch dedicated to the production of environmentally friendly energy?


Trashberg - the currents of the Pacific Ocean tend to accumulate floating plastic in a confined area. An immense archipelago of trash comes into being, a bouyant island the size of Spain, France and Italy combined.


Minimum Speed 200 kh/h - the products that surround us often have unused capacities, we only use a fraction of their potential.


Phantom Pain - in the capitals of Europe 18 square kms of office space is left unused. This equals more than half of Manhattan. Or a ghost town of 50 twin towers.


Cruise City, City Cruise - cruise ships in theory are “parasites” in every port they call on. Can we introduce a form of reciprocity? Can we imagine a two-way connection between ships and the city?


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