This year’s British pavilion stands the idea of a national pavilion on its head. Vanessa Norwood and I wanted to make an exhibition that was extrovert, and that looks outwards to the world to find inspiration and common ground (to use David Chipperfield’s term). This seemed particularly important in a year when we’re otherwise very focused on what’s happening in our own backyard.
Venice Takeaway will present the work of ten architectural teams who have travelled the world in search of imaginative responses to universal issues. We will chart their course in Argentina, Brazil, China, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Thailand and the USA, and demonstrate the creative potential of sharing ideas across borders. More than 26 practising architects, curators, academics, filmmakers and writers, are involved in the exhibition. They were chosen by our advisory panel via an open competition, which we launched in four cities around the UK.
We chose themes that are pertinent in the UK right now, including the design of schools and housing, urban development, planning, risk consciousness and the competition system. The depth and insightfulness of the research is a reminder that the practice of architecture is as much about observation and thinking as it is about design. The result is an archive that includes hours of interview footage, thousands of photographs, detailed drawings and objects.
The pavilion will be organised into two distinct atmospheres: an “emporium of ideas”, where the research archives are displayed; and a set of proposals for the UK in the form of installations and objects. Our hope is that the proposals will influence debate in the UK, provide an injection of fresh ideas and open up international dialogue. The archives will be published online and in an accompanying catalogue, forming a resource that others can draw on in the future.
Venice Takeaway responds to Chipperfield’s theme of Common Ground by identifying imaginative and ambitious ways to negotiate the challenges of architecture. The process of working on this exhibition has reinforced my belief in the importance of mobility across borders, openness to new ideas and an international approach to shared problems.