Venice Biennale 2014 will "sever connections with
contemporary architecture" says Rem Koolhaas


Venice Architecture Biennale 2014: Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas has released more details of the Venice Architecture Biennale he is curating this year and revealed his aim to disconnect the exhibition from the current state of architecture, which he says "is not in good health".

Map suspended inside the Arsenale for the Monditalia exhibition
This image: map suspended inside the Arsenale for the Monditalia exhibitionMain image: model of the Central Pavilion in the Giardini

Speaking today at the Italian Cultural Institute in London, the OMA principal said his intention as director of the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale is for the exhibition, to "sever all connections with contemporary architecture which, in spite of many impressive manifestations, is not in good health" and to focus instead on the progression of global architecture over the last 100 years.

Talks programme for the Monditalia exhibition
Talks programme for the Monditalia exhibition

The research-driven exhibition, entitled Fundamentals, will examine the essential elements of architecture and chart the emergence of a global architectural style. As well as encompassing the Arsenale and the Central Giardini Pavilion, this theme will extend to the 65 participating national pavilions for the first time in the biennale's history.

"After several architecture biennales dedicated to the celebration of the contemporary, Fundamentals will look at histories, try to reconstruct how architecture finds itself in its current situation, and speculate on the future," said Koolhaas.

Models of the exhibitions inside the Arsenale
Models of the exhibitions inside the Arsenale

The architect says this year's exhibition will move away from "presenting objects and presenting architects", and will instead show the original research carried out over the last year. He also claims it will express the life and humour of architecture.

"What we hope to do with this biennale is to lift the pressure of constant seriousness of the profession of architecture," he said. "I think architecture is written about as if it is a dead serious discipline, but I think there is life in architecture."

Models of the exhibitions inside the Arsenale
Models of the exhibitions inside the Arsenale

The theme assigned to the national pavilions is Absorbing Modernity: 1914-2014. For this, each pavilion will present its country's unique architectural styles and typologies over the last century.

The exhibition in the Central Pavilion will be named Elements of Architecture and will comprise a series of rooms each dedicated to the history of a different architectural element, including the balcony, the wall, the door and the window.

Concept diagram for national pavilion
Concept diagram for national pavilion

The Arsenale exhibition, named Monditalia, will collectively represent Italy's architecture and history. A huge historic map will extend through the centre of the space, while architectural installations will be interspersed with film, dance, music and theatre.

Biennale president Paolo Baratta commented: "With Rem Koolhaas, our aim is to create an exceptional, research-centred architecture biennale. It will be significantly innovative as Rem has conceived a project that involves the entire biennale, which fully exploits its potential."

Concept diagram for national pavilion
Concept diagram for national pavilion

"With great courage and ambition, after having traced the history of modernity over the past 100 years to the present, he identifies and presents the elements that should act as references for a regenerated relationship between us and architecture," added Baratta.

The Venice Architecture Biennale 2014 will open to the public on 7 June and will run until 23 November.

  • Michel Erler

    These diagrams at the bottom speak for themselves. He’s damn right.

  • Jim

    I also wouldn’t mind if Rem severed connections with hyperbole.

  • archiarchi

    Why has Delhi been depicted as the UK?

  • r2d2

    I thought this was just a result of globalisation and some form of efficiency. To stop this we would have to ban television, the internet and air travel. A few centuries from now people will also look more alike as a result of this by mixing.

  • Rafael Gomez-Moriana

    The concept diagram for the national pavilion is reminiscent of the travel agency scene in Jaques Tati’s film Playtime:

  • John

    I agree, but is he not totally contradicting the work of his own practice? Rem’s work is at the height of mediocrity in contemporary architecture.