Hugon Kowalski at the Venice Biennale
small, Hugon Kowalski at the Venice Biennale, Visualisation of the Fair Building project, photo: courtesy of the Zachęta Art Gallery, pawilonpolski_biennale2016.jpg
Among the 88 artists showcased during the 15th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice is a Polish architectural team led by Hugon Kowalski, a Poznań-based architect, who analyses the ills of urbanised spaces worldwide.
In a press conference on 22nd February 2016, Paolo Baratta, director of Venice Biennale of Architecture, together with the curator of the main exhibition Alejandro Aravena, revealed the programme and the participants of the 15th edition of the Biennale.
Reporting from the Front is the title of exhibition by Alejandro Aravena, the main curator of the 15th International Architecture Exhibition, which will start on 28th May 2016. The 49-year-old Chilean architect, who has recently been awarded with the Pritzker Prize, is known for his radical views on the architects' engagement with social issues. He gained recognition for his designs of welfare settlements, built in South America for society's least privileged. Realised in close collaboration with future tenants, the houses are cheap, yet comfortable – they are supposed to be an alternative to favelas, illegal settlements built by people who can't afford a normal apartment. Aravena has for many years been engaging in the projects aiming to improve the life of the poor and the marginalised, both individually and with his studio Elemental.
Invited to prepare the main exhibition of this year's Biennale, Aravena referenced the concept of architecture as a field which has great impact on quality of life. On the occasion of his nomination as the curator, he stated:
There are several battles that need to be won and several frontiers that need to be expanded in order to improve the quality of the built environment and consequently people’s quality of life. This is what we would like people to come and see at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition: success stories worth to be told and exemplary cases worth to be shared where architecture did, is and will make a difference in those battles and frontiers. The 15th International Architecture Exhibition will be about focusing and learning from architectures that through intelligence, intuition or both of them at the same time, are able to escape the status quo.
On 22nd February 2016, Aravena announced the full list of the architects invited to take part in the project. Among the 88 names there is a strong Polish representation: the architectural team led by Hugon Kowalski, the Poznań-based architect, looking for a cure for architectural ills of urban spaces worldwide. Besides Hugon Kowalski, the team is comprised of Marcin Szczelina (critic and curator, he worked as an assistant of Aaron Betsky, main curator of the 11th Biennale in 2011), Klaudia Dopierała and Maria Dondajewska.
The invitation to take part in the Venice exhibition is a great honour, especially considering the fact that among other exhibiting artists there are Peter Zumthor, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA studio, David Chipperfield, and Richard Rogers. Hugon Kowalski's team will be the only Poles in the exhibition, but the Biennale will offer a chance to see works of architects widely known in Poland, such as the Barozzi and Veiga duet (authors of the Szczecin Philharmonic) and Renato Rizzi, designer of the Gdańsk Shakespeare Theatre.
Venice Biennale of Architecture
Institute of Design Kielce
The International Architecture Exhibition at the Biennale is accompanied by exhibitions in their national pavilions prepared by various countries. The Polish Pavilion will host the Fair Building exhibition, created by Dominika Janicka and Michał Gdak of Institute of Design Kielce. The curators want to highlight the problem of working conditions of construction workers, rarely present in the architectural debate, as well as other ethical issues of architectural production.
Written by Anna Cymer, translated by OK, 23 Feb 2016