Brod / The Ship / La Nave: A Floating Pavilion for Croatia at the Venice Biennale
56 nations are displaying their architectural finery at the 12th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice over the next few months, and with a record number of visitors estimated to visit the exhibition, it is paramount that each country constructs something both inventive and unique.
A coalition of 14 Croatian architects has henceforth designed a rather obtuse floating pavilion as part of a three-stage plan to wow visitors. Inside the Croat exhibition space at the Arsenale, an array of cargo boxes are embossed with records of the pavilion design, construction information and its subsequent journey across the Adriatic to be moored at Venice’s main pier - Riva dei Sette Martiri - during the opening of the Biennale. A 96-page information booklet has also been created and will be handed out to each and every visitor, with textual and photographic documentation of the design process.
The real star of the show however is the floating pavilion itself; a bundle of wire mesh measuring 19m by 9m by 5.5m resting on an existing barge in Venice’s famed waterways. Whilst the structure may appear to be something of a entangled mass of building waste, it has in fact been carefully constructed by a dozen welders with over 40 layers of Q385 weeded wire mesh and weighs in excess of 30 tonnes. A fragile structure, the pavilion’s coarse protrusions are counteracted by a void in its centre, from which visitors can experience the floating mass on an intimate level.
A simple structure and almost ‘invisible’ from a distance, the pavilion reveals itself with different densities of steel mesh, transparencies, and vision lines. It may not be to everyone’s taste but one thing’s for sure – everyone is talking about the Croatian Floating Pavilion.