Alejandro Aravena launches Venice Architecture Biennale with attack on developers who put profit before people

by Kim Megson | 26 May 2016

Alejandro Aravena has officially launched the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale by firing a broadside at decision makers and architects who put profit ahead of the public good when creating our built environments.

“Banality and mediocrity in architecture are as damaging as not responding to basic needs,” said the Pritzker laureate at this morning’s (26 May) press conference for the festival, which he is curating.

“Corporate architects [and developers] are the real bad guys, but nobody says anything about it. These guys should be banned,” he added. “Even while we’re here, they are developing millions of square metres of land [for profit alone].”

Challenges facing the built environment are focus of this year’s festival, with Aravena’s component named Reporting from the Front. Pavilions representing 65 countries are showcasing the challenges that exist around the world – from natural disasters to financial constraints, pollution, crime and housing shortages – and possible solutions in different contexts. Eighty-eight architects from 37 countries are participating.

“The Biennale has to be a place of dialogue between the public, architects and artists and we wanted to improve the meetings between them for this event,” said Paolo Baratta, the president of the festival. “The purpose is to rediscover that architecture is a tool in the hands of all of us, not just architects and developers living on some holy mountain. We have the tools to organise our common space.

“Openness is a prerequisite and nobody can withdraw from their responsibility [to improve our built environments.]

“We’re not here to provide recipes. We’re here to provoke questions. This is a machine of urgency and hope, but nobody comes here with any sense of triumph or satisfaction about their work.”

"Corporate architects are the real bad guys, but nobody says anything about it. These guys should be banned"

Aravena said the legacy of the Biennale will depend on what architects, decision makers and users take from it. He said: “I hope architects will go back to their offices with less excuses to do better. I would like ministers and mayors to think about improving the quality of lives, not just profit. Finally, I would like citizens to expand their horizons about how they can live and consider alternative ways.”

Aravena conceded that architectural questions sometimes require an iconic, high-budget building, and said his crusade for the built environment is not about “moral superiority and saying buildings for the poor are worthy and high budgets are irrelevant”.

However, he stated architects should put public good first and “not do things just because you can, because that leads to a scarcity of meaning and does not contribute to the public good.”

The Biennale – which runs until 27 November – will be accompanied by a number of associated events, including talks on the socially-minded work of Aravena and the overarching theme of the festival.

Special satellite projects will include an exhibition curated by architect Stefano Recalcati exploring the regeneration of urban ports and a London School of Economics pavilion researching the interaction between public and private space. London's V&A museum will organise an exhibition named A World of Fragile Parts which will display exhibits from the museum’s collection as 3D printed copies in an exploration of duplication.

CLAD will be reporting live updates for the opening days of the Biennale. News editor Kim Megson will also be live-tweeting from the event, follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

Alejandro Aravena  Venice Architecture Biennale  Reporting from the Front 
Related stories

Alejando Aravena will make his architectural plans free for all to use

Alejandro Aravena's star-studded Venice Architecture Biennale will be a battle for better built environments

Alejandro Aravena wins 2016 Pritzker Architecture Prize

Alejandro Aravena has officially launched the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale by firing a broadside at decision makers and architects who put profit ahead of the public good when creating our built environments. “Banality and mediocrity in architecture are as damaging as not responding to basic needs,” said the Pritzker laureate at this morning’s (26 May) press conference for the festival, which he is curating. “Corporate architects [and developers] are the
CLD,PRO,ARC,DES,DEV
Aravena said corporate architects were the 'real bad guys'
More news
News stories: 1 - 30 of 6730     
 
 
 
News stories: 1 - 30 of 6730     
 
 
 
company profile
Company profile: Dornbracht GmbH
Dornbracht is turning the bathroom into a LifeSpa: Dornbracht’s LifeSpa vision has taken the idea of health-oriented bathroom design to a new level.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
features
Snohetta’s underwater restaurant
"Should a thousand year wave occur, you’ll be completely safe"

A sneak preview of one of the world’s largest underwater restaurants

Weisz sees cities as ‘the engines of human innovation and activity’, which means that investment in their design will reap huge social rewards
Claire Weisz
"I prefer to be labelled a feminist architect than a female architect. I’d love to work with more women"

The WXY co-founder and urbanist with a passion for improving our public spaces

The Newspaper Cafe in Jinhua Architecture Park, China
Born in Kobe, Japan and later growing up in New York, Mori has become a trailblazer for women in architecture around the world
"Every decision you make, you should think seven generations ahead"

From a compressed earth cultural centre in Senegal to the sleek Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Mori’s work shares a clarity of purpose

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
White City House features an indoor lap pool in the House Gym as well as the rooftop pool
Linda Boronkay grew up in Budapest. Her father was an architect and her mother was an antiques dealer and collector
"Nick Jones and I are both passionate about design. When we see the same thing twice, it bores us. It’s risky but interesting creatively"

At the end of a very busy year for Soho House, the group’s design director talks us through her plans

Ito’s National Taichung Theatre in Taiwan is formed largely of curved walls
Toyo Ito was born in Seoul in 1941. He studied architecture at the University of Tokyo
"I have one dream with my work. Architecture should equal nature"

The Pritzker Prize-winner talks about inspiration, battling bureaucracy and the Tokyo National Olympic Stadium saga with Kim Megson

The Aqualuna residential complex will sit on Toronto’s waterfront
Kim Herforth Nielsen founded 3XN in 1986 with Lars Frank Nielsen and Hans Peter Svendler Nielsen
"I always wanted to do more than just designing buildings"

How Danish firm 3XN is harnessing the power of architecture to shape human behaviour

featured supplier
Featured Supplier: EXF supports Third Space to create London’s largest functional training space at The Yard
Bespoke fitness manufacturer EXF has extended its relationship with Third Space, by supplying the luxury fitness group with London’s largest functional training rig at its Canary Wharf club.
cladkit product news
John Pawson reimagines oil lantern for Wästberg
The Holocene No. 4 reflects Pawson's pared-back style and neutral palette
Lauren Heath-Jones
Swedish lighting company Wästberg has expanded its Holocene collection, with a new addition, Holocene No. 4, designed by acclaimed architect ...
Water inspires Zaha Hadid Design x Rosenthal collaboration
The collection consists of three smaller collections: Weave, Strip and Lapp. Weave was inspired by 'the fluid lines of Zaha Hadid's sketching hand'
Lauren Heath-Jones
Zaha Hadid Design has partnered with porcelain manufacturer Rosenthal to create a new collection of vases. Called the Lapp collection, ...
Bartok Design installs 'transformative' soaking tubs in SpaFusion at Pallazzo Varignana
Bartok Design creates traditional Japanese soaking tubs
Lauren Heath-Jones
Bartok Design, a Japan-based supplier of Ofuro (Japanese bathtubs), has completed a major installation at the newly opened SpaFusion at ...
cladkit product news
Zaha Hadid Design partners with Royal Thai to create carpet collection celebrating Zaha Hadid's legacy
The carpets capture Hadid's notable use of layering and interweaving as well as her use of light and shadow
Lauren Heath-Jones
Zaha Hadid Design has partnered with carpet manufacturer Royal Thai to create a new carpet collection inspired by the work ...
Tredje Natur launches Climate Tile to bring green spaces to urban settings
Tredje Natur has installed the pilot system of its Climate Tile system in the Nørrebro area of Copenhagen
Lauren Heath-Jones
Danish company Tredje Natur (Third Nature) has recently installed the pilot system of its innovative street paving system in the ...
David Rockwell partners with Jim Thompson for dream-inspired fabric collection
Rockwell has designed 12 multi-use fabrics inspired by dreams with long-time collaborator Jim Thompson
Lauren Heath-Jones
Renowned architect David Rockwell has created a collection of fabrics with long-time collaborator Jim Thompson. Called Dreams, the collection was ...
cladkit product news
Aotta launches sound panels made from hemp husks
The panels are designed to maintain 'healthy spaces' and consist of Hemp husks fashioned into a natural porous membrane that absorbs sound
Lauren Heath-Jones
Russian design studio Aotta has developed a range of eco-friendly, sound-absorbing panels made from the waste products of hemp seeds. ...
Volvo partners with Reef Lab Designs to encourage ocean biodiversity
The tiles are made from marine-grade concrete and recycled plastic fibres
Lauren Heath-Jones
Car manufacturer Volvo has partnered with the Sydney Institute of Marine Science and Reef Design Lab to create an environmentally-friendly ...
Baux creates plant-based acoustic panels
Baux has worked with scientists from the Royal Institute of Technology to create Baux Acoustic Pulp, a plant-derived acoustic solution
Lauren Heath-Jones
Baux, an acoustic products brand based in Sweden, has developed a line of biodegradable acoustic panels, using a plant-based material ...
x
Sign up with CLAD for regular news updates