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Highlights from Venice

Another busy day at the Biennale…

After breakfast with the CCA, who were updating the world’s press on exhibitions and collections this year, I spent Tuesday seeing as many pavilions and exhibits as possible, from the enormous four-legged corian table in the Serbian pavilion which you played like an instrument when smacked, to the Tron-like atmosphere of the Russian pavilion, which was internally clad in QR codes with the exhibits unlocked using an iPad.

Highlights of the Giardini include the Japanese Pavilion, with its multiple small models proposing a standard house for displaced tsunami victims interspersed between full-size, tsunami-stripped pine trees. Also of interest was the German pavilion, with its large-scale photos proposing and documenting how architecture can spearhead the reuse of buildings such as a disused and gigantic WW2 submarine bunker’s transformation into a VIP nightclub.

On the way, I asked various attendees from Peter Cook and Juan Herreros, to Mark Brearly and Joseph Rykwert, to Patricia Brown and Paul Finch, for their take on this year’s biennale. All were impressed by its depth and richness - there was plenty to debate and discuss, which helped grease the conversation - the cog of networking.

The day ended with a party hosted by the British Council, in celebration of the British pavilion, which will be moving to the RIBA in the spring. The great and good ate parma ham and watermelon, sipping prosecco or blood orange juice, from Peter Murray and Vicky Richardson, to Eric Parry, Deborah Saunt, Sadie Morgan and countless others from British institutions from the British School in Rome, to the Brunswick Arts Centre to the Barbican.

A long walk home with a gelato marks the end of the biennale for me. Although I’m sure to meet many an architect on the flight home tomorrow.

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