british pavilion at the venice biennale features a rooftop piazza and no exhibitions

caruso st john architects
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for the 2018 venice architecture biennale, the british pavilion has been covered with scaffolding that supports a roof-level piazza.

for the 2018 venice architecture biennale, the british pavilion has been covered with scaffolding that supports a roof-level piazza. the curatorial team, caruso st john architects with artist marcus taylor, have responded to event’s freespace theme with an exhibtion that features two very different settings. contrasting the new public gathering space on the roof, the interior of the pavilion has been left intentionally abandoned — untouched after the last exhibition in 2017.

commissioned by the british council, the pavilion will host a program of events, performances, installations, and debates responding to the theme of freespace and ideas raised by the pavilion’s own theme — island. the elevated piazza is accessed via a scaffold staircase that runs the length of the building. intriguingly, the peak of the pavilion’s roof projects up through the floor at the center of the terrace, suggesting both an island and a sunken world beneath. tea will be served each afternoon, with seats and umbrellas offering comfort and shade.

left deliberately vacant, complete with wall markings and scuffs, the interior contains no exhibitions whatsoever. ‘in past biennales, the pavilion has held curated exhibitions on architectural themes,’ explain adam caruso, peter st john, and marcus taylor, curators of the 2018 british pavilion. ‘this year, we have taken a different approach. there will be no exhibits; instead we have realized a structure that can be experienced like a building.’

‘there are many ways to interpret the experience of visiting island and the state of the building suggests many themes; including abandonment, reconstruction, sanctuary, brexit, isolation, colonialism and climate change,’ the curators continue. ‘it is intended as a platform, in this case also literally, for a new and optimistic beginning. it is forward looking whilst acknowledging the past, whether good or bad.’

‘this year’s winning proposal, island, will represent great britain at the most influential gathering for contemporary art and architecture anywhere in the world,’ adds sarah mann, director of architecture design fashion at the british council, and commissioner of the british pavilion 2018. ‘we are thrilled to present this new structure for the british pavilion which breaks with convention, creating a place for visitors to meet and engage with the building and each other, in a new way. the accompanying program of events will highlight the pavilion’s role as a space for debate, for exchange of ideas and for visionary thinking.’

british pavilion at the venice biennale features a rooftop piazza and no exhibitions

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