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Venice director hails 'revolutionary new era'

Kurt Forster, the director of this year's Venice Architecture Biennale, has announced that the festival will reflect the fact that 'architecture is going through a period of revolutionary shifts of thought - shifts so great as to suggest the advent of a new era', writes Andrew Mead.

Outlining the content of the biennale's main exhibition, 'Metamorphoses', last week, Forster promised a 'world-wide survey', featuring 170 practices, at the biennale's two main sites - the Italian Pavilion in the Festival Gardens and the Corderie, the huge former ropeworks in the Arsenale.

The Italian Pavilion would be 'a theatre of experiences', with sections on concert halls, Italian interiors, and the theme of 'atmosphere'. Featured architects include Kengo Kuma, Ben van Berkel and Chris Wilkinson.

At the Corderie, there will be a survey of the 1980s centred on four 'pivotal' figures:

Peter Eisenman, Frank Gehry, Aldo Rossi and James Stirling.

Other parts will be devoted to 'topography', 'surfaces', and 'hyper-projects' - including Coop Himmelb(l)au's MusÚe des Confluences, Lyon.

Clearly unafraid of hyperbole, Forster declared that 'as in an orchestral crescendo, the projects will blend timbres and resonance, dark and light, forte and piano, and unleash themselves in an explosive finale - a finale that is nothing other than a brilliant overture.'

Peter Cook, curator of the British Pavilion, said he had chosen the exhibitors to reflect the 'contradictory feel of the British scene' and 'move the talk around the building', but did little more than list their names:

Future Systems, Ian Ritchie, Kathryn Findlay, Caruso St John, Ron Arad, John Pawson, C J Lim, Richard Murphy, and Cook himself with Bartlett colleague Gavin Rowbotham.

The Venice Architecture Biennale opens to the public on 12 September and runs until 7 November.Website, www. labiennale. org

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