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La Biennale di Venezia

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Abalos+Sentkiewicz AS+

Communal Atemporal Palaces

  • TUE- SUN
    22/05 > 31/07
    11 AM - 7 PM

    01/08 > 21/11
    10 AM - 6 PM
  • Arsenale
  • Admission with ticket

Iñaki Ábalos (Spanish, b.1956) in collaboration with Sofía Blanco Santos (Spanish, b.1990), Armida Fernández (Mexican, b.1988) and José de Andrés Moncayo (Spanish, b.1991) of the Harvard Graduate School of Design (USA, est.1936) and ETSAM / UPM (Spain, est.1844)




As told in a well-known episode, an Italian charterhouse inspired Le Corbusier in his Journey to the East (1911) and gave rise to his first project of a large residential— almost communal—palace that is at the same time modern and timeless, the Immeubles-villas (1922). This project was concieved with the youthful intention to solve the housing problems of the modern city, but it allowed him to build his first installation in Paris: the pavilion of L’Esprit Noveau of 1924. This pavilion replicates one of the residential modules of the complex, and contained a large advertising display of Le Corbusier’s Ville Contemporaine (The Contemporary City), and its associated dioramas exposed inside. When looking at architectural experiences that, in the most ambitious cases, are “outside the time or they transcend it,” it becomes observable that across cultures and motivations there stems an impulse to build outside the existential and economic unit of the family. It is this accrual of a timeless dimension that we consider latent while simultaneously in a continuous state of excitement in this collective investigation. And that, perhaps, is one of architecture’s most attractive sediments.

Biennale Sneak Peek

Image 1 – How will we live together?
What will our societies lack to overcome the inherited bourgeois models and lifestyle? What will we need to shape our frustrated aspirations of solidarity and autonomy, of spiritual life and pleasures, not necessarily reduced to the coarse palette of consumption advertised urbi et orbi by media? Barthes’ beautiful obsession with a life governed both by communities and by ‘idiorhythm’ – the capacity of each individual to carry his own rhythm within a community, to obey his own idiosyncrasy and not the rigid rules of the Cistercians or the Soviet communes –, is a proposal that should be taken seriously in societies like ours, in which leisure and work are almost the same. Aged societies and with enormous rates of lonely people, staring at their smartphones, with serious problems of anxiety and solitude despite the many invisible networks that surround and manipulate us precisely because we are alone and helpless... Palaces of Insurgency, of a life closer to the desires of communion and solitude, palaces for bodies and spirits in plenitude.


Image 2 – Sneak peek of the project
Communal Atemporal Palaces is an academic research based in two courses entitled How to Live Together? directed by Iñaki Ábalos at Harvard GSD in Boston and at the ETSAM in Madrid. Inspired by the homonymous course by Roland Barthes, as well as on the book of the same title that includes his lectures taught at the Collège de France between 1976 and 1977, these courses were focused on the idea of “Palace”, in the notion of “Timelessness” and in the concept of “Communes”, assembled in a single search that could be enunciated with a Nietzschean-inspired question: What is missing above all in our big cities? What is lacking in our societies?


GSD / Harvard Graduate School of Design
Spanish Government – Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda
Acción Cultural Española (AC/E)

Production credits

Research director: Iñaki Ábalos
Coordinators: Sofía Blanco Santos, Armida Fernández and José de Andrés Moncayo
Students from: Open Studio 'Subjects, Forms and Performances of the Contemporary Hybrid' (GSD / Harvard University. Fall 2016); Ud. Ábalos / Máster Habilitante ‘How to Live Together? Nuevo Palacio Atemporal’ (ETSAM / UPM. Fall 2019 – Spring 2020)

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Biennale Architettura
Biennale Architettura