The rooftop of the British pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale will be opened up to visitors and the building below left empty, it has been revealed
Curators Adam Caruso and Peter St John, of Caruso St John Architects, and artist Marcus Taylor have been working to create an ‘Island’ public space above the Enrico Trevisana-designed villa that has hosted the British Pavilion since 1938.
The ‘elevated piazza’ will offer views of the lagoon as well as a place for visitors to reflect. The peak of the pavilion’s roof will jut up through the floor of the public space, ‘suggesting both an island and a sunken world beneath’.
The inside of the pavilion will be empty, but the two spaces will host a programme of events including poetry, performance and film, as well as architectural talks and debates.
Peter St John, Adam Caruso and Marcus Taylor said in a joint statement: ‘There will be many ways to interpret the experience of visiting the 2018 British Pavilion. An island can be a place of both refuge and exile.
Venice Biennale 2018 British pavilion curators Adam Caruso, Peter St John and Marcus Taylor
Source: British Council Lucia Scerankova
‘The state of the building, which will be completely covered with scaffolding to support the new platform above, suggests many themes, including isolation, abandonment, reconstruction, sanctuary, Brexit, colonialism and climate change.’
Sarah Mann, director of architecture design fashion at the British Council – which is responsible for the pavilion – said: ‘Island will offer a thought-provoking experience within the Biennale, continuing the British Pavilion’s role as a platform for debate, exchanging ideas and visionary thinking.
‘This is the first time we have a joint commission between art and architecture at the British Pavilion. Rather than presenting an exhibition, we wanted to offer an unmediated experience through a new piece of architecture, which gives us an opportunity to reflect and a place to come together to ask questions and explore new ideas.’
Graphic designer John Morgan Studio has been commissioned to create the ‘graphic identity’ for Island.
Caruso St John and Taylor’s Island concept is based on a quote from Shakespeare’s The Tempest: ‘Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises; Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.’
The Venice Biennale, curated by Yvonne Farrell and Shelly McNamara of Dublin-based Grafton Architects, will run from 26 May to 25 November and focus on ‘Freespace’ as well as ‘generosity, thoughtfulness and a desire to engage’.