Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Venice – Isola di San Giorgio: Architecture Biennale - Pavilion of the Holy See

Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore
16th International Architecture National Pavilions Biennale
Pavilion of the Holy See – Vatican Chapels

Commissioner: Cardinale Gianfranco Ravasi
Curators: Francesco Dal Co, Micol Forti
Exhibitors: Andrew Berman, Francesco Cellini, Javier Corvalàn, Eva Prats and Ricardo Flores, Norman Foster, Teronobu Fujimori, Sean Godsell, Carla Juacaba, Smiljan Radic, Eduardo Souto de Moura, Francesco Magnani and Traudy Pelzel
The pavilion of the Holy See at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition, until November 25, is based on a precise model; the “woodland chapel” built in 1920 by the architect Gunnar Asplund in the Cemetery of Stockholm. To help visitors understand this choice, an exhibit space has been set up at the entrance of the pavilion of the Holy See, displaying the drawings and model of Asplund’s chapel. This theme has been proposed to the ten architects invited to build ten chapels, gathered in the wooded area in the Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice, to form the pavilion of the Holy See, named Vatican Chapels. The request addressed to the architects implies an unusual challenge, since the designers had been asked to come to terms with a building that will be isolated and inserted in an utterly abstract natural setting, characterized by its openness to the water of the lagoon. In the forest where the “Asplund Pavilion” and the chapels have been located there are no destinations, and the environment is simply a metaphor of the wandering of life.

Asplund Pavilion
Francesco Magnani and Traudy Pelzel

Asplund Pavilion
Gunnar Asplund - Woodland Chapel - 1920
model and drawings
Stockholm cemetery


 A Precise Form of Anonymous Origin
Andrew Berman – USA
Moretti - Terna

Entirely covered in transparent polycarbonate, the structure
is a precise shape of anonymous origin, an indefinite presence in
a natural landscape. It offers a basic level of shelter and protection, and is built with readily available material.

Andrew Berman

Not a Project; a Reflection
Francesco Cellini – Italy

Not a chapel, but a reflection on chapels.
The layout of the garden around it allows the removal of part of the casing from the structure, relying on the surrounding environment for a sense of interior. Space and material are elemental, dry, almost abstract.

A Nomadic Chapel
Javier Corvalan – Paraguay

A twenty-meter-large cylinder balanced on a support, which happens to be a bricola, one of those poles that mark the waterways in the Venetian Lagoon. All tensions resolve into an embrace in the shape of three-dimensional cross between the circular space and the forest that surrounds it.

The Morning Chapel
Ricardo Flores, Eva Prats – Spain
Saint-Gobain Italia

Derived from drawings by Ivan Leonidov, one
 of Russia greatest constructivist architects, the chapel is carved out of a partition wall opened on one side. An uninterrupted, compact surface, midway between
a forgotten fragment of an existing building and an open-air chapel.

Eva Prats and Ricardo Flores

Crosses Morphed into a Tensegrity Structure
Norman Foster – UK
Tecno – Terna - Maeg

Following the practice of Buckminster Fuller, Foster created a tensile structure or a tensegrity structure based on cross-shaped elements and built with a complex construction of cables and struts. Tensive elements dominate compressive ones. 

 Cross Chapel
Terunobu Fujimori – Japan
Ligno Alp – Barth Interni

Inspired by an existing church in Japan from around 1719. It has been built with the Shou Sugi Ban Japanese technique, an old method for improving the durability of cedar tree planks by burning their surface. 


 A Dynamic Entity Capable of Surviving Thousands of Kilometers Away
Sean Godsell – Australia
Maeg - Zinteck 

This chapel has no roots, so it can be moved anywhere in the world. It is 11 meters tall and has a square base 2.5 meters wide. Its galvanized iron structure stretches up while leaving the altar clear. 

A Bench and a Cross
Carla Juaçaba – Brazil
Secco Sistemi

A cross and a bench. Four stainless steel beams (8 meters long and 12 centimeters large) mirror what is around them on their polished surface. At given moments in the day, they almost disappear from sight. A chapel en plein air.

A Chapel as a Roadside Shrine
Smiljan Radic - Chile
Moretti – Saint-Gobain Italia

 A small, tapering cylinder (6 meters) with thin reinforced concrete walls and an open roof. The outer surface is rough, while the inside has been decorated by printing bubble wrap on the cement. The chapel is situated on the side of the road.

No, It is Not…
Eduardo Souto de Moura – Portugal
Laboratorio Morseletto

Pietra di Vicenza stone blocks, of 40 centimeters by 2.60 meters, enclose the tiny building, inspired by the memory of a journey to Machu Picchu the architect took with close friends Álvaro Siza and Fernado Tavora. 

many thanks for captions – courtesy
The BAG-Biennale Architettura Guide

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