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la Biennale di Venezia
Main Visual Entry Page Architettura EN (new)


Central Pavilion

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In the framework of the reorganization of the exhibition spaces of the Biennale venues, in the historical Padiglione Italia at the Giardini was renamed Central Pavilion in 2009.
This change aimed at underlining its new versatile nature, destined to be the centre of multiple permanent activities as well as a milestone for other Pavillions at the Giardini.
It is a structure (3500 square metres, 2800 of which destined for exhibitions), open all year long in the service of hosting the main events of the Biennale, with specific areas, designed for educational activities, a library service, open to students and scholars alike, and a bookstore.

In order to do so, a requalification program was launched (involving interventions on structures, plants, shutters, etc.) with the aim of realising the right set ups for the new bookstore and cafeteria, creating a new arrangement for the influx of both incoming and outgoing visitors.

The set up of some of these areas was curated by some of the artists involved in the 53rd  International Art Exhibition: Massimo Bartolini (Educational area), Rirkrit Tiravanija (Bookstore), Tobias Rehberger (Cafeteria). The latter won a Golden Lion for Best Artist of the exhibition.

The new ASAC library.
The first phase of the realisation of the Library of Historical Archives of Contemporary Arts (ASAC) ended in June 2009 –on the occasion of the opening of the 53rd International Art Exhibition – and regarded the adjustment of all internal spaces of the first part of a restored annex of the Central Pavilion at the Giardini. This intervention implied the functional restoration of its rooms, all equipped with up-to-date gear for reference research.

This way the Biennale library was finally open after ten years: a library specialised in Visual Arts, providing books, catalogues, papers that can be consulted in special reading rooms open to exhibition visitors, students as well as researchers in Venice. The Library of the Biennale underwent an extraordinary requalification, both under a functional and an architectural point of view, offering very high standards for reference work. Thanks to this operation, the long awaited event of giving back the ASAC to Venice finally took place, in a requalified structure and in an ideal, alive setting, strongly engaged with events and exhibitions.

At the end of August 2010, in conjunction with the 12th International Architecture Exhibition, the second and last opening of the restored areas in the same annex of the Central Pavilion took place. The rest of the ASAC Library collections (Architecture, Cinema, Dance, Music and Theatre) are now placed there, along with the Documents collections.

The ASAC has now reached a joint management status, and found a structurally rationalized organization: on one side it offers a new place for research reference work, on the other a renewed space for digitalization, storage and reference of its historical archives, at the Vega centre in Marghera.

Historical Hints
The first realisation of the Central Pavilion at the Giardini dates back to 1894, on behalf of the City of Venice, and its aim was to host the first Biennale exhibitions the following year. The building (known as “Pro Arte” at the time) was conceived by Enrico Travisanato, and its liberty façade was designed by Marius De Maria and Bartolomeo Bezzi. Until 1905, the Biennale only occupied this Palazzo, where artists coming from different countries would gather and exhibit their works together, with no internal division. Because of the great success achieved by its first editions, the Biennale encouraged foreign countries to build their own pavillion at the Giardini to let their national artits have an exclusive exhibition space (the first country to take up this invitation was Belgium, in 1907).

In the following decades, the main Palazzo underwent many changes and transformations, hosting the interventions of important artists such as Ernesto Basile (entrance, 1905), Galileo Chini (decorations, 1907-1909), Guido Cirilli (façade, 1914), Gio Ponti (Rotunda, 1928), becoming the present Padiglione Italia in 1932, with the still visible engaging façade by Duilio Torres. The strong collaboration between Carlo Scarpa and the Biennale began in 1948 (and lasted until 1972), a direct bound which resulted in numerous remarkable projects. In 1968 Carlo Scarpa realised the loft conversion of the main salon of the Pavilion, doubling the actual exhibition space. He also realised the Giardino delle Sculture in 1952. In 1977 Valeriano Pastor designed the Auditorium, destined to the City of Venice, and now trasformed into the ASAC Library.