Venice Biennale

Venice Biennale

Venice Biennale

Vicky Richardson, Director of Architecture, Design, Fashion at the British Council writes about what’s happening at the British Pavilion at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale.

The British Pavilion at the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale presents the work of ten architectural teams that have travelled the world in search of imaginative responses to universal issues. Venice Takeaway charts their course in Argentina, Brazil, China, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Russia, Thailand and the USA and demonstrates the creative potential of sharing ideas across borders.

Research in the form of photography, drawing, film and objects will be displayed in a Research Emporium, while in the galleries of the pavilion there are Takeaway Proposals – installations and objects that encapsulate their ideas for change.

Commissioned by the British Council and curated by Vanessa Norwood and myself, Venice Takeaway responds to Venice Biennale director David Chipperfield’s theme of ‘Common Ground’, by identifying new ways to negotiate the challenges of making architecture, and making the case for internationalism. The call for proposals was addressed to a broad section of people working in architecture and connected fields, and intended to build on the UK’s strengths in architectural research, writing and curating as well as design.

The exhibition is a reminder that the practice of architecture is as much about observation and thinking as it is about design. We have taken inspiration from Albert Einstein who said, ‘If we knew what we were doing, it would not be research, would it?’ While keeping an open mind, Venice Takeaway presents a set of clear intentions that we hope will be pursued beyond the life of the exhibition.

In February 2013, the exhibition will literally become a ‘takeaway’ when it travels to the RIBA headquarters in London. This will enable a larger audience to see the show, and bring some highly pertinent ideas, such as research on the design of schools, to the heart of the debate about architecture in the UK.