Spanish pavilion wins Golden Lion award at 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale

by Kim Megson | 01 Jun 2016

The international jury of the 15th Venice architecture Biennale has awarded the Golden Lion award for Best National Participation to Spain, for its pavilion Unfinished.

The Spanish exhibition was one of 65 national pavilions at this year’s Biennale. Each engaged with festival curator Alejandro Aravena’s chosen theme Reporting From the Front to show examples of problems facing the built environment in their countries and some suggested solutions to these challenges.

Unfinished, created by Contemporary Spanish Architecture, explored the devastating effect the global economic crisis has had in Spain, with countless newly built buildings quickly abandoned due to a lack of financial viability.

The exhibition used photography as a filter to portray this reality, but represented the optimistic view of those who have fought back against this recent past to reuse these spaces.

The judges described the pavilion as “a concisely curated selection of emerging architects whose work shows how creativity and commitment can transcend material constraints”.

The jury also gave special mentions to Japan, for its pavilion exploring alternative forms of collective living in dense urban settings, and Peru, for its exhibition on preserving the culture of the Amazon.

Paraguayan studio Gabinete de Arquitectura also received a Golden Lion for their contribution to the Central Pavilion, an enormous brick archway showing what can be achieved with bricks and unqualified labour. They were praised for "harnessing simple materials, structural ingenuity and unskilled labour to bring architecture to under-served communities".

In a separate award, the Biennale’s board of directors, chaired by Paolo Baratta, presented the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement to Brazilian architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha.

Venice  Biennale  Golden Lion  architecture  design  Spain  pavilion 
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The international jury of the 15th Venice architecture Biennale has awarded the Golden Lion award for Best National Participation to Spain, for its pavilion Unfinished. The Spanish exhibition was one of 65 national pavilions at this year’s Biennale. Each engaged with festival curator Alejandro Aravena’s chosen theme Reporting From the Front to show examples of problems facing the built environment in their countries and some suggested solutions to these challenges.
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Spain pavilion, Unfinished, explored the impact of the economic crisis on the country's architecture / Sandra Trauner/DPA/PA Images
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