- Urbanika, the winners of Next Landmark 2018 describe the Venice Biennale
As we extend our best wishes to the architect Hashim Sarkis, principal of Hashim Sarkis Studios (HSS) who has been appointed as the curator of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia 2020, here is a review by Federico Campos and Oscar Chavez of Mexican firm Urbánika Landmark of the Year 2018, owinners for their intriguing architectural storytelling of the La Champa restaurant bar in Chihuahua.
The prize for the eighth edition of the Next Landmark international contest was a trip to the Venice Biennale. We are now sharing with our readers the impressions of the two architects - in addition to the delightful croquis sketches by Oscar Chavez - starting from the Corderie of the Arsenale with its first empty space, starkly contrasting with Aravena’s installation (Fundamentals) made using the remnants from the 2015 Art Biennale. “There are influences that seep through from earlier editions which is natural because the only way to grow and evolve is to process the past.”
A huge exhibition, and just as well most of the installations are online for the people at home, while for the visitors, this massive media presence at the Biennale and its content is a source of both joy and torment, amid the visual familiarity and the expectations created by a setting that looks as if it has been made to be Instagrammed. One example says it all - the Switzerland Pavilion, has won the Leone d’Oro: “There was a queue to take photos of the pavilion; we hope that the magnificent space also sparks some debate about the architecture of the rental homes…”
Another hot topic for Campos and Chavez is the representation of architecture going from the white 3D-printed models to the traditional examples made from cardboard, wood and other natural materials, with hand or computerised drawings to arrive at a blend of technology, human imperfection and beauty.
The highlight of the Biennale? The first participation of the Holy See with its ten chapels on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore in a union of architecture and nature. For Federico Campos, the best chapel here is the one by Smiljan Radic (Chile). A huge concrete cylinder with the texture of bubble-wrap that gives it a kind of random, lo-fi pixelated feel, perfect to capture the shade of the trees hanging over the glass rooftop. Eliminating the elements that are reminiscent of a traditional human dimension, the chapel combines structure, meaning and landscape.
Of course, the Biennale also helps to advance the careers of up-and-coming architects. Since May, a number of participants have won major awards: Carla Juacaba is the Architectural Review’s Emerging Architecture award winner for 2018; Edificio E by Barclay & Crousse won this year’s Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize (MCHAP).
The question still remains: what is Freespace? Certainly, a fleeting title (like Less Aesthetics More Ethics, by Massimiliano Fuksas in 2000) but what remained constant in the various presentations both in the pavilions and at the Arsenale was the idea of incompleteness running through the projects, the urban interventions and the explorations.
The real stars? Without a doubt the people from all over the world, the many visitors who give the event and the research exhibited meaning. We are very curious to see what will happen at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice.
Croquis: Oscar Chavez, Urbánika