By Seth Oliver
"Great architecture is the design of space that contains, cuddles, exalts, or stimulates the perosns in that space." - Philip Johnson. I thoroughly enjoyed the 2012 Biennale in Venice! The theme was Common Ground and focused mainly on the architectural response to it. I felt as if it was set up just for our trip as architecture students to benefit from. I learned so much from this experience. It furthered my love for a few architects and spiked my interest in others. I will still have to say that the 2 exhibits I enjoyed the most were from Zaha Haddid and Norman Foster + Partners. Both are very different but inspire me to think outside of the normal realm. Each of them deals with the idea of a movement in a space but the approaches are very different.
The Hadid exhibition was all about the visual and the contrast of light and shadows. The main structure was a oversized platted metal piece. It looked similar to a lily before the petals have fully blossomed. There was an opening at the base, just large enough for a person to fit through and leading into a shaft with a small diameter that expanded as the metal grew taller. A single slit in the entrance separated the walls from coming full circle. The metal was cut and then bent in several different directions to fit this shape, but also to catch light at almost any angle. From the outside, the structure is elegant but commanding the attention of the room. Everyone is staring at it. However, inside the grand, silver petals, sound is close to being a loud silence. The inner circle fosters solitude and the feeling of being the only person in the room. I absolutely loved this piece of art. The power of a metal shield in a busy space is unreal. The level of detail is very precise and needs to be studied closely to really find the meticulousness of the work. It proves that no detail is too small to go unnoticed
The Norman Foster+ Partners exhibit was almost the opposite of the Hadid Exhibit. The space was dark except for the continuous moving projection of words in different directions on the floor and the constant quick slide shows and sounds. The Slide shows were all around the room and never had an image upon the wall for more than a few seconds. The images assaulted your eyes with the difference in colors from dark to bright at a quick pace. The content of the images varied. At one point there would be pictures of buildings and scenery with people laughing and getting along, and then there would be pictures of war, fire, crime and riots. The sounds were deafening and flipped from the fire of a guns to peaceful ocean waves and several others that came as quickly as they went. All of this put together made me feel as if I was meant to just stand and stare. Walking on the projected words was disorienting and there was nowhere else to go. The theme of common ground was extremely prevalent in this space. All people can experience joy and triumph, but also feel the hurt and pain of a struggle too. I felt as if this was the first time I actually realized and comprehended that every other person in the world can feel exactly as I do. We are all human, but I just need reminding sometimes and this was the space that did it for me.
I would definitely go back to this exhibition. I think there are a lot more things to observe and understand that I might have missed before. I know that my class was meant to see it as architecture students. We may have picked up on things that others did not, but it is in our hands to use the knowledge and experiences we gathered in Venice to apply it to our work in the future.