Common Ground

Venice Architecture Biennale is "missed opportunity" - New York Times

News: the New York Times has published a scathing news report about the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale, claiming "the less said, the better."

The article declares the theme of "Common Ground," chosen by director David Chipperfield, to be "a missed opportunity" to draw attention away from "glamorous buildings and celebrated designers" towards "broader issues like urbanism, public space, social responsibility and collaboration."

"The show mostly just glides over issues like public housing and health, the environment, informal settlements, economic decline and protest," says reporter Michael Kimmelman. "It pays almost no attention to the developing world, to designers from Africa or China, and precious little to female architects, aside from Zaha Hadid, who, like Peter Zumthor, Renzo Piano, Peter Eisenman, Bernard Tschumi and a surprising number of the old boldface names, hogs much of the spotlight."

Projects by Indian architect Anupama Kundoo and Urban-Think Tank are named as exceptions, but overall Kimmelman claims "the exhibition still positions architects as producers of surplus value through aesthetic quality."

The article follows a controversial statement made by architect Wolf D. Prix of Coop Himmelb(l)au that claimed the biennale places too much importance on celebrity - see the story and comments »

Hear more about the theme in our interview with director David Chipperfield »
See all our coverage of the biennale »