Vatican Chapels: The Holy See Pavilion at the Biennale in Venice

Smiljan Radic, Norman Foster, Flores & Prats Architects, Carla Juaçaba, Studio Azzurro, Eduardo Souto de Moura, Francesco Cellini, Javier Corvalán,

Venice, Italy,

Exhibitions, Pavilions,

Venice Biennale,

Vatican Chapels is the title of the Holy See Pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition at the Biennale in Venice, curated by Francesco Dal Co with the collaboration of 10 world-famous architects.

Vatican Chapels: The Holy See Pavilion at the Biennale in Venice

This is not the first time that the Holy See has taken part in an event at the Biennale in Venice. In 2013 and 2015 the Holy See had a pavilion in the 55th and 56th International Art Exhibitions. At the 2013 Art Biennale the Holy See presented a representation of the Biblical story of Genesis represented through works focusing on three themes, commissioned of three different artists: Creation (Studio Azzurro), De-Creation (Josef Koudelka), and Re-Creation (Lawrence Carroll). Floornature closely covered Studio Azzurro’s "In Principio (e poi)" (“In the Beginning… and then”) project, made with FMG Fabbrica Marmi e Graniti MAXFINE slabs, illustrated here with photographs of the project’s subsequent installation in the Vatican Museum’s Studio Azzurro Hall, inaugurated in 2016. The Renaissance hall in the museum’s contemporary section now features an installation by architect Roberto Pulitani hosting Studio Azzurro’s work.

On March 20 in the Press Room at the Holy See, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, who commissioned the Holy See Pavilion as Chairman of the Papal Council for Culture, with Dr. Paolo Baratta, Chairman of the Biennale di Venezia, and pavilion curator Dr. Francesco Dal Co, unveiled Vatican Chapels, the Holy See Pavilion for the 16th International Architecture Show at the Biennale in Venice.
The Holy See’s first pavilion at the Architecture Biennale in Venice is located on the island of San Giorgio. The green oasis at one end of the island will host ten chapels designed by world-famous architects: Francesco Celini (Italy), Eduardo Souto de Moura (Portugal), Norman Foster (United Kingdom), Flores & Prats (Spain), Carla Juaçaba (Brazil), Smiljan Radic (Chile), Javier Corvalán (Paraguay), Andrew Berman (USA), Sean Godsell (Australia) and Teronobu Fujimori (Japan). Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi explained that “though secondary in importance to cathedrals, basilicas and churches, Christian chapels are true temples” due to the presence of two key elements of the liturgy: the pulpit and the altar, respectively expressing the “sacred word” and the celebration of the Eucharistic. The tour begins with an exhibit about an emblematic project by architect Gunnar Asplund: the “Chapel in the woods”, built in Stockholm Cemetery in 1920. The project “evokes humanity’s non-stop search for the sacred within the spatial horizons of the natural environment we live in” (Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi). Dialogue with a plurality of cultures and societies confirms the universality of the Church through the involvement of architects from all over the world , from Europe to Japan, from Latin America to the United States and Australia.

The architects were asked to create a type of construction for which there are no precedents or models: not the usual chapel inside a larger or pre-existent religious space, but in an isolated location surrounded by nature, emerging from the lagoon and opening up towards the water.
The theme is similar to the one addressed by Asplund, “definìng the chapel as a place for orientation, encounters, and meditation which is formed naturally or by chance in a vast tree-covered terrain, defined as a physical evocation of the labyrinth of life and the human pilgrimage while awaiting the encounter” (Francesco Dal Co).

(Agnese Bifulco)

1. The Island of San Giorgio Maggiore (from Wikipedia)br /> 2.3. Project by Carla Juaçaba - www.carlajuacaba.com.br
4. Skogskapellet, Skogskyrkogården, photograph by Holger Ellgaard (from Wikipedia)
5-8 Photos courtesy of the Photographic Service of the Vatican Museum© Vatican Museum

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