Foster + Partners reveals designs for first ever Vatican Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2018

Foster + Partners will be designing one of the 10 chapels which will make up the Pavilions of the Holy See, the first Vatican City pavilion in the history of the Venice Architecure Biennale.

All images are courtesy of Foster + Partners unless otherwise specified.

Curated by Francesco Dal Co, the concept involved the creation of 10 temporary pavilions, each designed by a different architect, which alongside Norman Foster, includes Eduardo Souto de Mourao, and Francesco Cellini.

Working in collaboration with Tecno, Foster + Partners will build one of the chapels located in the wooded area on one send of the Venetian island of San Giorgio Maggiore.

Coloured section of Venice Chapel. Courtesy of Foster + Partners

The initial design concept for the chapel was to take three crosses and a timber deck set in the landscape, and drape it with a tent-like membrane.

The concept later evolved into morphing the crosses into a tensegrity structure of cables and masts. The membrane in the earlier concept also evolved into a wooden latticework attached to the structure.

“Our project started with the selection of the site. On a visit to San Giorgio Maggiore, close to Palladio’s magnificent church and the Teatro Verde, we found a green space with two mature trees beautifully framing the view of the lagoon. It was like a small oasis in the big garden, perfect for contemplation,” explained Norman Foster.

Norman Foster sketch of Venice Chapel 2018. Image courtesy of Norman Foster. 

“Our aim is to create a small sanctuary space diffused with dappled shade and removed from the normality of passers-by, focused instead on the water and sky beyond.”

Norman Foster sketch of Venice Chapel 2018. Image courtesy of Norman Foster. 

Other countries pavilions have also been revealed, including those from the Middle East and the wider region, such the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey.

The 2018 Venice Biennale will be curated by Dublin-based Grafton Architects, under the theme ‘Free Space’.

The event will be open to the public from 26 May and 25 November 2018.

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