Light houses on the Nordic common ground

Tuesday 14 Aug 2012

Inspired Nordic approaches at the Venice Architecture Biennale

The exhibition celebrates the jubilee of the Nordic Pavilion designed fifty years ago by the Pritzker Prize winning architect Sverre Fehn. Thirty-two architects born after 1962, the year the pavilion was designed – eleven from Finland and Sweden, and ten from Norway – have been invited to create a model of a conceptual “house” that refects their personal philosophy of architecture. The exhibition also highlights topical social and environmental themes, looking at the sobering economic constraints and diminishing environmental resources that challenge architects all over the world in their efforts to achieve maximum quality in their designs. Contemporary Nordic architectural culture offers both exemplary approaches and signifcant constructed works addressing these most challenging circumstances of our time. The classic hallmarks of Nordic architecture -simplifed form, frugal use of materials and sensitive treatment of daylight and the natural setting – embody the basic principles of responsible, sustainable architecture.

The Nordic Pavilion at the Venice Biennale is Sverre Fehn’s distilled, elegant version of a Nordic “house” – a design evoking sensations of light, material, structure, space, nature and atmosphere. It embodies what might be called a metaphysical “house of the North”, one of specific primary architectural images, elements and details. The Nordic Pavilion is a physical and metaphorical “common ground” for Finland, Sweden and Norway.

Visitors will encounter an exhibition that can be viewed nowhere else, and in no other format. The works have been commissioned specifically for the Venice venue from Nordic architects new and established, urban and rural, less-renowned and widely celebrated. The exhibits are displayed as installations, forming a “chorus” of contemporary Nordic architecture in poly-phonic dialogue with Fehn’s iconic pavilion. The exhibits are mounted on pedestals designed by Professor Juhani Pallasmaa, Fehn’s colleague and personal friend.

The exhibition process has been a means of developing not only 32 site-specific projects for the pavilion, but also of developing “common grounds” of discussion and critique among the participating architects, though a series of workshop meetings held in May and June at the collaborating museum institutions. The exhibition aims to be more phenomenal and direct, rather than virtual and distant. The adjacencies between the 32 projects will be as stimulating as the projects themselves.

The show is curated by Professor Peter MacKeith and organised by the Museum of Finnish Architecture in collaboration with The Swedish Museum of Architecture and The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design (Norway).

The show is supported by the Ministry of Education and Culture, Finland; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway; the Nordic Culture Fund and the World Design Capital Helsinki 2012.

The exhibition is part of the World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 programme.

The “New Forms in Wood” Exhibition in the Finnish Pavilion is also produced by the Museum of Finnish Architecture.


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