Forests of Venice pavilion offers retreat from Biennale crowds

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Forests of Venice pavilion offers a peaceful retreat from the Biennale crowds

Venice Architecture Biennale 2016: Swedish studios Kjellander + Sjöberg and Folkhem have installed a wooden pavilion between the Venice Biennale venues, in tribute to the 10 million trees used to build the city's foundations.

Kjellander + Sjöberg Forest of Venice installation at the Venice Architectural Biennale 2016

The Forests of Venice pavilion stands alongside a 19th century greenhouse, between the Giardini and Arsenale venues, offering a secluded retreat for Biennale visitors.

Kjellander + Sjöberg Forest of Venice installation at the Venice Architectural Biennale 2016

Kjellander + Sjöberg and Folkhem teamed up to design the structure. Their aim was to demonstrate how versatile wood is as a material, as well as to promote its sustainability in a time when climate change and rising sea levels threaten coastal cities like Venice.

The use of wood also references the closely spaced wooden piles that form the city's foundations.

Kjellander + Sjöberg Forest of Venice installation at the Venice Architectural Biennale 2016

Made up of criss-crossing wooden boards, the building has a latticed structure that tapers outwards towards the top. Seating is built into its interior, while thinner wooden planks provide the see-through roof canopy.

Kjellander + Sjöberg Forest of Venice installation at the Venice Architectural Biennale 2016

"We wanted to create an informal meeting space resembling a glade in a forest; offering beautiful dappled daylight, evoking trees, branches and foliage," explained architect Stefan Sjöberg.

Kjellander + Sjöberg Forest of Venice installation at the Venice Architectural Biennale 2016

According to Sjöberg, the building's rhythmic appearance was designed as an inversion of the Doge's Palace – a Venetian Gothic structure on Piazza San Marco in the heart of Venice.

Kjellander + Sjöberg Forest of Venice installation at the Venice Architectural Biennale 2016

"By inverting the Doge's Palace, we investigated our contemporary democratic structures," said the architect.

"Simultaneously, we wanted to combine the tactile qualities of wood and its potential as a sustainable construction material with innovation and technology."

The Palace of Shadows by In Praise of Shadows for the Forest of Venice installation at the Venice Architectural Biennale 2016
The Palace of Shadows by In Praise of Shadows, 2016

The pavilion is accompanied by an exhibition, curated by Jan Åman, featuring the work of seven architects and studios: Architects without Borders Sweden, Arrhov Frick, DinellJohansson, Horn Uggla, In Praise of Shadows, Carmen Izquierdo and Urbio.

Trees by Arrhov Frick for the Forest of Venice installation at the Venice Architectural Biennale 2016
25 Trees by Arrhov Frick, 2016

Each project on show suggests ways of reinterpreting historic Venetian architecture with wood as the primary material.

Bottom-up by URBIO for the Forest of Venice installation at the Venice Architectural Biennale 2016
Bottom-up by URBIO, 2016

Forests of Venice is not the only exhibition focusing on wood – the Slovenian Pavilion features a wooden library, referencing the use of Slovenian timber in the construction of Venice's foundations.

This year's Venice Architecture Biennale opened to the public this weekend and continues until 27 November 2016. Other projects on show include a huge cloud-like structure and a prototype for a drone port.

Photography is by Adam Mørk.