the history of venice biennale + design inspiration

biennale de venezia

The idea of an art exhibition in Venice was developed during impromptu meetings of a small circle of artists and art lovers at the Cafe Florian in St Mark’s Square.

The International Exhibition opened in 1895, and was partly open to all and partly invitation only. All exhibitions were based in a central building until 1907.

the pavilions

Belgium built the first separate pavilion. Early pavilions were in Neo-Classical style, with wired glass skylights and/or high level windows, leaving walls blank for display purposes, providing natural light to displays.

The American pavilion (1930) is surprisingly Neo-Palladian style.

Austria (1934) by Josef Hoffman is simple, modern, beautiful - facing a private garden.

After World War II more contemporary styles emerged.

  • Venezuelan pavilion (1954) by Carl Scarpa – jewellery box with many of his feature highlight slat windows, spiral square fountain.

  • Finish pavilion (1956) by Avar Aalto is a bright blue modern country farmhouse style

  • Nordic Pavilion (1962) by Sverre Fehn is a very beautiful, simple, concrete structure with repeating beams and large glazed doors opening the inside to out.

architecture closer to the heart

The Swiss Pavilion built in 1952 by Bruno Giacometti’s was my favourite. Heavily inspired by the Barcelona Pavilion by Mies Van der Rohe, it is beautifully executed and proportioned with intersecting planes and slots of lights, using typical high level windows plus one in a butterfly profile - to gently light the exhibit below.

The Australian Pavilion is just one year old and was designed by Denton Corker Marshall,replacING a temporary building by Phillip Cox. The new pavilion is a black bunker, not that that is necessarily a bad thing, and is an elegant black bunker.

Today there are 29 pavilions that were built at different periods, and in the following order:

Bienale di Venezia - list of national pavilions, year and designer
  • 1907 Belgium (Léon Sneyens)

  • 1909 Hungary (Géza Rintel Maróti)

  • 1909 Germany (Daniele Donghi), demolished and rebuilt in 1938 (Ernst Haiger)

  • 1909 Great Britain (Edwin Alfred Rickards)

  • 1912 France (Umberto Bellotto)

  • 1912 Netherlands (Gustav Ferdinand Boberg), demolished and rebuilt in 1953 (Gerrit Thomas Rietveld)

  • 1914 Russia (Aleksej V. Scusev)

  • 1922 Spain (Javier De Luque) façade renovated in 1952 by Joaquin Vaquero Palacios

  • 1926 Czech Republic and Slovak Republic (Otakar Novotny)

  • 1930 United States of America (Chester Holmes Aldrich and William Adams Delano)

  • 1932 Denmark (Carl Brummer) enlarged in 1958 by Peter Koch

  • 1932 Padiglione Venezia (Brenno Del Giudice), enlarged in 1938

  • 1934 Austria (Josef Hoffmann)

  • 1934 Greece (M. Papandréou - B. Del Giudice)

  • 1952 Israel (Zeev Rechter)

  • 1952 Switzerland (Bruno Giacometti)

  • 1954 Venezuela (Carlo Scarpa)

  • 1956 Japan (Takamasa Yoshizaka)

  • 1956 Finland (Alvar Aalto Pavilion)

  • 1958 Canada (Gruppo BBPR, Gian Luigi Banfi, Ludovico Barbiano di Belgiojoso, Enrico Peressutti, Ernesto Nathan Rogers)

  • 1960 Uruguay

  • 1962 Nordic Countries: Sweden, Norway, Finland (Sverre Fehn);

  • 1964 Brazil (Amerigo Marchesin)

  • 1987 Australia (Philip Cox), rebuilt in 2015 (J.Denton, B.Corker, B.Marshall)

  • 1995 Korea (Seok Chul Kim and Franco Mancuso).


investing in architecture for tomorrow

“Residential architectural design

should relate to the site,

introduce sunlight and ventilation,

and develop rational free flowing interiors

that support our relaxed lifestyle.”

- david mccrae

architecture helping people: when design has purpose

Via the Biennale architects and governments are providing design assistance and funds for housing for displaced people and refugees. Architects need to stop thinking just about money and start thinking about using our skills to help people, and contribute to a society in some way. This may often be easier said than done, but in all our busy western lives these are commodities we have very little of: time + physical strength.

So at mm+j we support our local communities, recently donating our architectural services as an auction item to the Friends of Sri Lankan event. We were pleased to learn that the event raised $30k to support flood relief operations with the profits going directly to the flood victims in Sri Lanka. We are pleased to contribute to charitable causes that assist others.

- luisa manfredini

Featured Posts