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Architecture Saturdays

Hans Hollein

Director Biennale Architecture, 1996
25th September 2010, 2:00 p.m.
Guest Speakers: Odile Decq, Zvi Tadeusz Hecker, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Gianni Pettena, Dietmar Steiner

For the 1996 centennial celebrations of the Biennale a special architecture contribution on the topic of "sconfinamento" has been prepared by me to chime in with the fine arts incorporated in the Biennale.

Budgetary problems forced us to give up this endeavour in favour of a presentation in 1996 – the year of the Architecture Biennale. After further uncertainty about the realisation it finally was decided that – in the interest of the public, the City of Venice and the participating architects and nations – the 6th International Architecture Exhibition should be held 1996 with a new program – according to schedule despite restricted means – under the directorship of Hans Hollein – the first time by a non-Italian director.

Thus work could be started in April 1996 and the commitment and enthusiasm of everyone involved allowed us to develop a fully fledged program covering the whole Giardini area. This program, drafted by the Director of Architecture in consultation with the Committee of International Experts was realised with the support of the Biennale staff, the collaborators and assistants and the cooperation of the participating nations. The theme of this Architecture Biennale is «Sensing the future – the architect as seismograph».

New ideas, trends, visions of the future are exemplified by the positions and work of individuals.
The main exhibition – held in the Central Pavilion of the Giardini – brings together about 70 architects of all generations from all over the world – both established masters with a volume of work as well as the "emerging voices" – all of them individuals with visions of the future. (Among the "emerging voices" there was Kazuyo Sejima of Japan – now director of the 12th Architecture Biennale 2010 and also winner of the Pritzker Prize 2010, as well as other later Pritzker Prize laureates as Glenn Murcutt and Peter Zumthor.)

The experts (Francois Burkhardt, Jorge Glusberg, Arata Isozaki, Paolo Portoghesi, Terence Riley) advised on a general program and took part in the selection process which was then approved by the Consiglio Direttivo.
However, the 6th Architecture Biennale was not seen only as an exhibition but as a program of events.

Thus the central show on the architect as seismograph is not only extended by other special exhibitions and by the contributions in the National Pavilions but also by accompanying events and symposia providing a broader scope of architecture beyond what a mere exhibition can provide. The main accompanying exhibition is the «Radicals» show (curated by Gianni Pettena) – a dialectical approach to the central topic in reaction to the history of the visionary approaches of the sixties and the seventies. (As also the special show in the Austrian Pavilion «Visionary Architecture in Austria in the Sixties and Seventies» by Günther Feuerstein.)

Directly connected with the main show is also the Italian Section, the national contribution to this year's Architecture Biennale selected by Marino Folin and presented in full scale mock-ups of the work of 26 Italian architects under fifty.
Practically all National Pavilions have a presentation specially prepared for this Biennale and we are happy about the enthusiastic participation and integration of foreign nations. Some nations could not take part this year due to lack of a territory of their own.

A number of these Pavilions even take up and extend the concept in areas where we were restricted in our provisions, as in the case with the presentation of the architectural initiatives and accomplishment of Disney in the US Pavilion.
That one of the prime media of dispersion of information on architecture is photography is exemplified in an exhibition of leading architectural photographers of the world in a special pavilion.

Outside the Giardini exhibitions take place as extensions of the Biennale with «Hic Saxa Loquuntur» or with other presentations which have the patronage of the Architecture Biennale as «Architectural Visions» and «The Renaissance of the Railways Stations» and the «Hombroich» initiative (all at the Zitelle), and other exhibitions elsewhere.
Thanks go to the President Gian Luigi Rondi and the General Secretary Raffaello Martelli as well as to the Consiglio Direttivo for the confidence and trust to assign me with the task of Director.

Hans Hollein

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