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British Pavilion for the Venice Biennale 
Thursday 12 Jan 2012
 
Ideas to Change British Architecture 
 
 
 
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Editorial

Entries wanted for British exhibition at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2012 


This week the British Council launched its brief for the British Pavilion for the Venice Architecture Biennale 2012. Curated by Vicky Richardson, Director of Architecture, Design, Fashion at the British Council and Vanessa Norwood, Head of Exhibitions at the Architectural Association, they explained the proposal: Ideas to Change British Architecture.

The proposal is a complex and an ambitious idea. The pavilion will be an exhibition to present ideas on how to improve built Britain by taking inspiration from overseas. The aim is to inject new ideas into the UK and create a platform about who and what makes great architecture. It is intended to build on the UK’s strengths in architectural research, writing as well as design.

This year’s pavilion is the opposite of a traditional British Expo; the panel explain it has a much more humble approach. The exhibition will question the conditions that determine the British built environment and hopefully be the first to make a lasting difference back home. Vicky Richardson, the chair of the advisory panel, described the pavilion thus: “rather than being a showcase for British architecture, we are hoping to transform British architecture by absorbing and gathering ideas from around the world, it is an extremely ambitious project as we are trying to make the pavilion count for something at home as well as engaging with an international audience.”

The panel will be looking for proposals that identify areas of weakness in the UK and use examples from overseas to transform them. Examples for transformation could be different approaches to planning applications, developing, funding or building. Finn Williams, a member of the advisory panel who also spoke at the brief, explained that ‘the proposal is so relevant and useful for Britain’s built environment’. The panel are keen to change what they call a culture of ‘low horizons, risk aversion and value for money’ that there is in the UK by developing the use a global culture of ideas and to use the pavilion as a manifesto of change in the UK.

After the deadline, the panel will appoint ten architectural ‘explorers’ to write proposals about specific locations of research. The ten explorers will undertake trips during March-April in which they will come back with discoveries and a collection of the materials to use at the exhibition. Proposals will be based on their discoveries and research from around the world in which the pavilion will become an emporium of ideas and will reflect a gap in UK practice. Born Design has been appointed as exhibition designer and will work with the curators to present the material as a cohesive whole.

The call for proposals is open to anyone who can demonstrate a connection with and knowledge of architecture. Anyone can enter from architects and students to researchers and journalists. The British Council are also particularly interested in hearing from architects who may come across alternative methods in their work overseas. They are also keen to hear from overseas students based in the UK. The panel will be giving further briefings this month in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast to gain the widest possible involvement.

If you are interested in participating an application form can be downloaded from www.venicetakeaway.com The deadline is the 28th February at 10AM.

Elena Collins
Editorial

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