Venice Biennale Exhibition Focuses on Duality of Architecture and Community

Freespace is the name and theme of the the 16th installment of Venice’s Biennale International Architecture Exhibition, which opens May 26 on the grounds of the Giardini della Biennale in the city’s historic center.

The event provides visitors an opportunity to experience worldwide contemporary architecture — both conceptualized and realized — through built structures, models, renderings, lectures and computer-generated imagery.

Designated as grounds for the Biennale organization’s inaugural arts festival in 1895, the Venice Giardini is a wooded parkland containing 30 permanent national pavilions that house the majority of art and architecture exhibits in alternating years.

This past month, the board of the Venice Biennale named the architect team of Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara as curators of this year’s event. The duo are co-founders of Dublin-based Grafton Architects, which was awarded the Silver Lion in 2012.

Biennale president Paolo Baratta said the 2016 installment, curated by Alejandro Aravena, focused on the need for effective interplay between a knowledgable community and the architects who serve it.

Yvonne Farrell, right, and Shelly McNamara will curate the 2018 exhibition. Photo courtesy of Grafton Architects

Yvonne Farrell, right, and Shelly McNamara will curate the 2018 exhibition. (Photo courtesy of Grafton Architects)

“Along these lines, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara will continue to address the same theme,” explained Baratta, “but from the point of view of the quality of the public and private space, of urban space, of the territory and of the landscape as the main ends of architecture.

“The curators, who are well-known for the refinement of their work, are also known for their intense didactic activity, and their ability to involve and fascinate new generations.”

Freespace describes a generosity of spirit and a sense of humanity at the core of architecture’s agenda, focusing on the quality of space itself,” said Farrell and McNamara in a joint statement the two released upon being selected as curators.

Freespace encompasses freedom to imagine, the free space of time and memory; binding past, present and future together, building on inherited cultural layers, weaving the archaic with the contemporary.”

Architecture has been part of the Biennale program for the past 50 years, but was given its own segment in 1980. The 2018 exhibition runs through Nov. 25.

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