This year's Venice Architecture Biennale, entitled 'Next', will focus on 'the real, the physical, and the material', according to director Deyan Sudjic. Featured projects will be under construction rather than speculative, and they will be shown primarily in large-scale models, not virtual images or architects' renderings.
Speaking at London's Italian Cultural Institute on Monday, Sudjic outlined a basic two-part structure to the event. At the Giardini di Castello, each of the national pavilions will mount its own interpretation of the theme, and alongside wellknown names - Jean Nouvel, Cesar Pelli, Eric Owen Moss - will be many architects yet to make a mark outside their own country.
Sudjic's hand will be more in evidence at the Arsenale, where the voluminous Corderie (the former rope-sheds) and Artigliere will be filled with more than 100 projects, grouped under 10 headings including housing, museums and shopping. The featured architects are almost all high profile. They include Herzog and de Meuron, Peter Zumthor, Renzo Piano and Alvaro Siza, plus the ubiquitous Frank Gehry, Daniel Libeskind and Zaha Hadid. John Pawson has been asked to design all 10 sections, to make the overall display more cohesive than is usually the case.
A highlight here promises to be the City of Towers. Ten architects, including David Chipperfield and Future Systems, have been commissioned by the Biennale (with Alessi) to design a 100-storey tower and present it as a 1:100 model; these models will be more than 4m high.
Sudjic, mindful that the Biennale opens almost exactly a year after 11 September, hopes this will 'demonstrate the continuing relevance of the tower'.
The commissioner for the British Pavilion, Andrea Rose of the British Council, was coy about Foreign Office Architects' design for it, beyond saying that it will be 'site-specific' rather than a portfolio of past and future projects. She said: 'We are delighted to represent Britain through such an internationalist practice.'
The 8th Venice Architecture Biennale runs from 8 September to 3 November.More details are at www. labiennale. org