Rem Koolhaas' Elements exhibition in Venice
aims to "modernise architectural thinking"

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Venice Architecture Biennale 2014: the Elements exhibition focusses on architectural components such as elevators and escalators, which "have never really been incorporated into either the ideology or the theory of architecture," says curator Rem Koolhaas (+ movie).

In the movie Koolhaas sets out his hopes for the exhibition – which occupies the Central Pavilion exhibition – during an tour with a select group of journalists, saying he hopes the show will trigger "a modernisation of the core of architecture and architectural thinking itself."

Venice Architecture Biennale 2014
The Elements exhibition focuses on individual aspects of a building – including doorhandles

"My obsession with Elements is to assert that elements such as the elevator or the escalator  have never really been incorporated into either the ideology or the theory of architecture," he says. "Now, with new digital intersections, digital hybrids, digital combinations, the risk is that architecture is simply incapable of thinking of its entire repertoire."

He adds: "That is what I hope will be one of the outcomes of this exhibition – a modernisation of the core of architecture and architectural thinking itself."

Koolhaas has written a 15-part book with Harvard's graduate school of design that is published as individual instalments for the biennale – each acts as a catalogue for a room within the pavilion.

"The book is present in every room, but obviously every room cannot present this encyclopaedia so we typically chose moments or emblematic aspects," explains Koolhaas.

Elements exhibition at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2014
The centrepiece of the exhibition is a suspended ceiling underneath a restored dome

The centrepiece of the exhibition is a contemporary suspended ceiling, which is hung underneath a restored dome at the front of the Central Pavilion, with all the ducts and machinery that it would usually conceal exposed.

"The [dome] ceiling is a symbolic plane where there is room for beauty and meaning," says Koolhaas. "But you also look inside the belly of a false ceiling and see how the two have radically changed."

"The ceiling has become a thick volume full of machinery, of which the architect has very little to say. The expression has been reduced to that of a grid."

Elements exhibition windows Venice Architecture Biennale 2014_dezeen
A section of the Elements exhibition dedicated to the window

Fundamentals, the 14th International Architecture Exhibition, opens to the public on June 7 and continues until 23 November.

Read more about our preview tour with Rem Koolhaas »

Follow our coverage of this year's Venice Architecture Biennale »