Hakka earthen houses on display at the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale

Wang Lin, Angelo Maggi, Andrea Nalesso,

Veronica De Martin,

Forte Marghera, Venice,

Biennale di Venezia,

Wrought earth,

Event, Exhibition,

The exhibition Hakka Earthen Houses on Variation at pavilion 30 of Forte Marghera is a collateral event of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia in 2021, and investigates Co-operative Living, Art and Migration Architecture in China. Because migration and cultural identity are aspects that strongly influence “how we will live together”.

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Hakka earthen houses on display at the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale
There are a number of themes that are known to affect the theme set by Hashim Sarkis, director of the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale: “How will we live together”, including migration and also the defence of one's cultural identities. The heritage of ethnic groups, the exchange and integration of foreign cultures have become an important pillar of the development of multiculturalism in the modern era. It is a cultural factor, from which contradictions and new migratory processes emerge, leading to reflection on coexistence but also on individual survival. 
This is the basis for the exhibition and collateral event Hakka Earthen Houses on Variation in pavilion 30 of Forte Marghera: the earthen houses of the Hakka people, their unique building typology and the consequent lifestyle adopted within the communities can be, so the initiators hope, “the inspiration for a different cultural life and a new associative geography.
The exhibition, curated by Wang Lin and Angelo Maggi (IUAV), is based on the traditional lifestyle within the Tulou complexes. These enclosed, uniquely designed peasant courtyard dwellings are originally from Longnan county in China's Jiangxi province, known as the "birthplace of Chinese Earthen Houses” where the largest number of examples can still be found today. The characteristic feature of these buildings is their circular or square shape, with six-metre thick walls and a height of three or four storeys. They were created by the Hakka, the Han ethnic group which migrated south more than a thousand years ago, using stone bricks or rammed earth, and they are still used today as social co-housing. The Tulou is a rural community architecture that plays a key role in defining the relationship between the built environment and the landscape, and is one of the five main types of residential buildings in China.
Located in the historic area of Forte Marghera (Venice), the Hakka Earthen Houses on Variation exhibition presents a journey through the eyes of twelve contemporary Chinese artists on migratory architecture, the involvement of Hakka communities, spatial reorganisation and Chinese historical cultural heritage.
The installation designed by andreanalesso studio and narrated by Veronica De Martin's photographs that we share with our readers,, focuses on the term "migration" as a transitory and creative process that becomes a metaphor for the exhibition. For this reason, visitors to the exhibition are welcomed into an ephemeral space, made up of suspended layers of veils, which allude to the construction system of the Hakka houses: the walled borders, the inner loggias and the central courtyard. The different heights of the dynamic, floating elements define the perimeter of the architectural complex, delivering a changing spatial perception. Due to the transitional space, visitors are taken from the light and bright outdoor environment to an indoor, enclosed area where they can experience the architectural/artistic works arranged in no apparent hierarchy.
Chinese art allows us to explore this type of self-sufficient co-housing in order to better understand “a social model based on the sense of community generated by the same housing units without any distinction of rank,” as the curators explain. For the 17th edition of the Architecture Biennale, Forte Marghera is once again proving to be a very exciting destination not to be missed when visiting the Venice Biennale.

Christiane Bürklein

Hakka Earthen Houses On Variation – Co-Operative Living, Art And Migration Architecture In China.
Collateral Event of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia – Biennale Architettura 2021
Location: Forte Marghera / Pavilion 30 - Italy
Date: July 16th – November 21th, 2021
SUPPORTING ORGANIZERS: Tongmen Art Center, Qingdao Wanmei Shengshi Technology Information Co. Ltd, Line Shi Yi (Shenzhen) Cultural Development Co. Ltd
SUPPORTING AGENCIES: Longnan Municipal Committee of CPC, Longnan Municipal People's Government, Experimental Art School of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute 
Plastic Art School of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute
CURATORS: Wang Lin, Angelo Maggi
EXHIBITION DESIGN: andreanalesso
PRODUCER: Guan Ye, Li Yingxian
EXECUTIVE CURATOR: Feng Daqing, Huang Bingli, Cao Yuan
ARTISTS:An Haifeng, Fu Zhongwang, Gu Xiong, He Duoling, Jiao Xingtao, Li Chuan, Li Qiang , Li Xiangming, Shi Jindian , Ye Fang , Ying Tianqi, Zhu Cheng
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: Propaganda Department of CPC Longnan Municipal Committee, Longnan Culture, Radio, Television, Press and Publication Tourism Bureau, Università Iuav di Venezia, Università Ca' Foscari Venezia, Istituto Confucio Venezia, Fondazione Forte Marghera, Lab 43
IMAGES: Veronica de Martin