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Venice blog: Champagne and umbrellas

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First night at the Biennale sees the storm clouds roll in


First night of the Biennale, and I made my way to a party hosted by Haworth Thompkins, Lynch Architects and Eric Parry where most a number of British architect were finding their feet, having arrived today.

The storm that pelted across the lagoon and chased us off the rooftop terrace was a welcome relief from the too ardent heat. We ended up crushed into the downstairs reception room, where Jean Nouvel mingled with critics Jay Merrick, Joseph Rykwert, wife Anne and Marina Engle, head of the British School at Rome.

Asked by Jay about his Middle East work, Nouvel said his Abu Dhabi Louvre was back on track, and his project was now piling, while Qatar was also moving ahead at pace.

Also there were building crews from the Arsenale, where I am headed this morning, who admitted the terracotta roof of a student project fell in four days ago. I was told that the new construction is reinforced, so it should be safe. Still, might walk around that one.

Others at the party were Sam Jacobs of FAT, Roz Barr, Rik Nys of David Chipperfield’s office and Kieran Long, former editor of AJ, who both assisted Chipperfield in the creation of the show. They looked both elated and relieved that the show was finally beginning.

Halfway through the party, a text message from AJ deputy editor Rory Olcayto came in: ‘is there a storm in Venice? Diverted to Bologna along with Nick Serota, Daniel Rosbottom (DRDH architects) and Asif Khan (Pernilla and Asif).’ At least he was in good company.

Today, off to various openings, a visit the to the show proper, and a lunch hosted by Arup. Here we go.

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