The 16th International Architecture Exhibition, titled FREESPACE, curated by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara and organised by La Biennale di Venezia chaired by Paolo Baratta, will open to the public from Saturday May 26th to Sunday November 25th 2018, at the Giardini and the Arsenale in Venice, Italy. The preview will take place on May 24th and 25th; the awards and opening ceremony will be held on Saturday May 26th 2018.
«With the aim of promoting the ‘desire’ of architecture», President Baratta explained that this edition curated by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara focuses on «the question of free space, the free space that can be generated when a project is inspired by generosity. Our desire to create freespace can be, specifically, a characteristic of individual projects. But free space also becomes a paradigm, in that it reveals the presence or absence in general of architecture, if we mean by architecture thinking applied to the space in which we live and reside. Free space is a sign of a higher civilisation of living, an expression of the will to welcome. Of course, generosity cannot only be hoped for: the cultural and institutional framework of a community must know how to recognise it and must want to stimulate and promote it. The Exhibition will give us examples, and motive for discussion. We are grateful to the Curators for accepting our invitation and for the bold approach they have adopted for the Exhibition, which adds substance to all those held over these years, and which itself provides an important link, almost a goal.» (See the complete text by Paolo Baratta attached)
The FREESPACE Manifesto has been the reference point for putting the Exhibition together: «we have found it to be a robust tool» Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara stated. «It has acted as a measure and a guide to finding cohesion within the diversity of an Exhibition of this enormous scale.»
The Exhibition FREESPACE develops from the Central Pavilion (Giardini) to the Arsenale, and includes 71 participants. The 71 participants are joined by others gathered in two Special Sections: the first, numbering 16 participants, is titled Close Encounter, meetings with remarkable projects and presents works that originate in a reflection on well-known buildings of the past; the second, which counts 12 participants and is titled The Practice of Teaching, collects projects developed as part of teaching experiences.
«We approached the exhibition as architects», the Curators explained, «and considered the given buildings as specific sites, as our context. The exhibition was designed to reveal the qualities of the Corderie, of the Artiglierie and of the Central Pavilion. We came to believe that the buildings themselves have become the first participants of the FREESPACE exhibition. It was our intention that the heroic dimension of the Corderie with its repeated brick structure and its moody light would contrast with the luminous quality of the zenithal light in the Central Pavilion. The contrasting atmospheres within these buildings informed and enriched our curatorial strategy. By responding to these qualities, we enjoyed the effect they had on our choices and placements of participants.»
«We discovered invention and creativity at the micro and macro scales: historic buildings liberated by the intelligence of the architects; forgotten buildings re-visited and brought to life; transformative typologies of habitation; infrastructural needs translated into public and civic facilities.»
«We are hugely appreciative of the enormous dedication and passion invested by participants. It has been a revelation to witness the variety of architectural responses to the vast differences in culture, climatic conditions, economies, and construction techniques, received from architects throughout the world. At the same time, it is important to note that at the core of the variety of individual architects’ work is the shared respect for the “Earth as Client”, a key component of our FREESPACE Manifesto».
«Our ambition for this Biennale», the Curators concluded, «is that architecture is celebrated and analysed by the insights into projects with meaningful and useful contents; that architects from around the world gather to interrogate the profession; that complex ideas are made understandable; where the curious general public come away refreshed by architecture.» (See the complete text by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara attached)

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