The International Architecture Exhibition 2012

Common Ground, the 13th International Architecture Exhibition, is directed by David Chipperfield and organized by la Biennale di Venezia chaired by Paolo Baratta. It is open to the public from Wednesday August 29th until Sunday November 25th 2012, at the Giardini della Biennale and at the Arsenale.

The Exhibition will be complemented by 55 National Participations organized, as usual, in the Pavilions at the Giardini, at the Arsenale and in the city of Venice. Four nations will be participating for the first time: Angola, Republic of Kosovo, Kuwait, and Peru. The Italian Pavilion at the Arsenale will be organized by the Ministry for the Cultural Heritage and Activities together with PaBAAC – the General Direction for the Landscape, Fine Arts, Architecture and Contemporary Art. Official Collateral Events of the 13th International Architecture Exhibitionwill be presented by international subjects and institutions that will hold their exhibitions and initiatives in various locations around the city.

Common Ground will consist of a single exhibition through the Central Pavilion at the Giardini and the Arsenale: David Chipperfield will present an Exhibition with 65 projects, by architects, photographers, artists, critics and scholars. Many of them responded to his invitation with original proposals and installations expressly created for this Biennale, involving in their projects other colleagues with whom they share a Common Ground. There will be a total of 112participants.

“For this 13th Architecture Biennale we met David Chipperfield – stated President Paolo Baratta - well aware that he cultivates a very intense vision of architecture as practice. We felt it was important to look at architecture with a focus deep inside the discipline itself, to highlight the rich pattern of connections and associations, the intense dialogue between the architects of present and past generations, and their points of reference. This moment will be useful to reflect upon and represent architecture by concentrating our attention on it, in response to other visions that consider it almost as a brunch of other disciplines.”

“The emphasis of the 2012 Biennale – explains Director Chipperfield – is on what we have in common. Above all, the ambition of Common Ground is to reassert the existence of an architectural culture, made up not just of singular talents but a rich continuity of diverse ideas united in a common history, common ambitions, common predicaments and ideals. We began with a desire to emphasise shared ideas over individual authorship, and realized that this required us to initiate dialogues rather simply make a selection of individuals. 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 and showed architecture in its context of influence and affinity, history and language, city and culture.

The final list of contributors demonstrates a rich culture of difference rather than a selection of edited and promoted positions. We want to emphasise the common ground that the profession shares, notwithstanding the apparent diversity of today’s architectural production. The sharing of differences is critical to the idea of an architectural culture.”

“The role of the architect – clarifies Chipperfield - is at best one of critical compliance. Architects can only operate through the mechanisms that commission them and which regulate their efforts. Our ideas are dependent on and validated by the reaction of society. This relationship is not only practical but concerns the very meaning of our work. In the increasingly complex confrontation between the commercial motivations of development and our persistent desire for a humane environment there seems to be little dialogue. If architecture is to be more than the privileged, exceptional moments of our built world, we must find a more engaged collaboration of talents and resources. Common Ground invites us to consider how these shared perceptions, concerns and expectations may be better directed.”

“We believe architecture to be the art of organizing the space we share – says President Baratta - and the expression Common Ground refers directly to this concept. Architecture is the tool for realizing the res publica, which is the place of individuals but belongs to everyone, it is the Artemis that metamorphoses private ownerships and desires into a public goods. In my conversations with David, I thought I detected a concern: a desire to recompose the identity of the architect in the face of the partially distorted use that has been made of his art, often with his complicity, and of the equally widespread mediocre and utilitarian use of non-architecture.”

“To speak of architecture and its complexity, of its richness, of the questions it seeks to answer – concludes President Baratta - can be useful to everyone, first and foremost because it may enhance a more qualified culture on the part of the clients, lacking which we are in danger of losing the meaning of things, of history and of real needs.”

For more information about Common Ground and the 13th Architecture Biennale