Crisis marks architecture at Venice Biennale

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Crisis marks architecture at Venice Biennale

VENICE - Global architects like Renzo Piano, Zaha Hadid and Norman Foster are flying in to Venice for the biennale that starts on Wednesday, where new designs are in tune with the mood of an economic crisis.

The theme of the world’s largest architecture festival is “Common Ground” and director David Chipperfield from Britain said it was important that today’s architects reflect social concerns, rather than merely aiming for glory projects.

The exhibition aims to “reassert the existence of an architectural culture, made up not just of singular talents but a rich continuity of diverse ideas,” said Chipperfield, who redesigned Museum Island in the center of Berlin.

Among the other star attendees will be Peter Eisenman from the United States, Kazuyo Sejima from Japan, Jose Rafael Moneo from Spain and Alvaro Siza Vieira from Portugal, who will receive a lifetime achievement award. The award’s last winner, Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, is also expected to attend.

“We began by asking a limited group of architects to develop ideas that might lead to further invitations. Everyone was asked to propose a project along with a dialogue that reacted to the theme,” Chipperfield said.

The 13th edition of the biennale, which is held every two years, will run until Nov. 25 and will present a total of 66 projects from 55 countries, including several newcomers like Angola, Kosovo, Kuwait and Peru.

The festival is spread out across the 3,000 square meters (32,290 square feet) of Venice’s ex-military arsenal and several national pavilions in Giardini Park on the southeastern tip of the island city.

Many of the designs will focus on urban architecture that is more attuned to the needs of city residents, as growing rates of urbanization around the world put increasing strain on infrastructure and generate new conurbations.

“Our cities can be interpreted as the physical form of a dynamic struggle between the individual and the collective,” Chipperfield said. “The radical visions proposed and realized by the modern movement never replaced the conventional images we use to represent our idea of public and private: the street, the square, the arcade, the boulevard.”

Among the highlights will be an American installation called “Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good” - the design of a futuristic city built for the maximum comfort of its inhabitants.

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