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Incidental Space: Inside the Swiss Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale

As part of ArchDaily’s coverage of the 2016 Venice Biennale, we are presenting a series of articles written by the curators of the exhibitions and installations on show.

All architecture is exhibitionist. Exhibitions are not simply sites for the display of architecture, they are sites for the incubations of new forms of architecture and new ways of thinking about architecture. [1] – Beatriz Colomina

An architecture biennale can be more than a place to simply represent and celebrate the status quo in architectural production. The Biennale’s state of exception and its spatial distance from where people normally work open up a space for examining and critically questioning the conditions of everyday work and production. Although, technologically speaking, more is possible today than ever before, in recent years architects’ creative latitude has been greatly reined in by an enormous—and growing—burden of rules and regulations. Against this background, the architectural exhibition is becoming an ever more relevant medium for a critical practice of architecture. Understood in these terms, an exhibition is no longer just a place for representing architecture ex post facto, as it is still often treated today. Instead, the fact of the exhibition space’s autonomy, and its distance from the “real” world of public and private architecture, has a potential that is increasingly being recognized and put to use. Exhibitions are becoming a place for researching and producing an experimental and critical architectural practice: a place not for the presentation of finished products, but for the production of content. The simultaneous limitations and license to experiment lent by the exhibition space focuses the object of research, allowing for the emergence of new insights, interpretations, and meanings. This calls into question the supposed boundary between architecture and the exhibition. Inquiry becomes a form of display.

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