Venice Biennale 2018: The Pavilion of Turkey will open its space as a meeting point for architecture students and professionals

The Pavilion of Turkey will offer an open space for encounters, conversation, and collaboration for architecture students and professionals, as part of its response to the theme of ‘Free Space’ at the 2018 Venice Biennale.

Curated by Turkish architect Kerem Piker and coordinated by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, the pavilion is titled ‘Vardiya’ (the Shift). It is co-sponsored by Schuco Turkey and Vitra, and will be located in one of the exhibition venues at Sale d’Armi in the Arsenale.

Spatial layout of The Pavilion of Turkey

The pavilion is envisioned as a “spatial and staging base”, providing a platform for workshops, round table discussions and meetings.

However, the main participants of the pavilion are architecture students from around the world, who have been invited to take part in an open call, addressing various questions about the event.

Students were tasked to tackle questions such as ‘why does the biennale exist?’, ‘for whom does the biennale exist?’, and ‘what does the biennale do?’ through a video response. Out of the 452 responses from 29 different countries, the curatorial team has chosen 122 students whose responses will be showcased as part of an exhibition. The participating students have also been invited by the Pavilion of Turkey to visit the biennale in weekly “shifts”.

Curator of The Pavilion of Turkey, Kerem Piker

“Architecture is a field that is constantly expanding, transforming and renewing itself. As such, there is a need for environments where architectural knowledge is reproduced, shared and discussed, and the
voices of new participants are heard,”  Piker explained.

“As the International Architecture Exhibition at La Biennale di Venezia is one of the most important
informal learning arenas in architecture, we prefer to describe the Pavilion of Turkey as a space for meeting, encounter and production rather than merely an exhibition space. In order to strengthen and diversify participation, as well as expand the curiosity of new actors in the field, we organised an open call for applications to imagine the Pavilion of Turkey as a meeting space for architecture students from all over the world.

“122 selected young architects will meet with professionals, academicians and enthusiasts from different
backgrounds, co-produce with scheduled programmes and co-create an exhibition that expands on these productions. Along with the participants, who we believe are a crucial part of contemporary culture and architectural debate, as curious individuals asking questions and constantly improving themselves, we strive to understand each other and be productive together. We also see this exhibition and the
preparation process as an opportunity to rethink what a biennial does, for whom, and why it exists in our time,” he said.

The programme will kick off with the student-produced video installations, and will later include 12 workshops run by architecture professionals invited by the Turkish pavilion focusing on a variety of topics. The space will also allow for 5o digital meetings, as well as six lectures by selected keynote speakers, “including a roster of leading architects”.

The overall pavilion aims to solicit a dialogue around the role of the Venice Biennale, and its impact to the current architecture field and profession.

Associate curators of the Pavilion of Turkey include Cansu Curgen, Yelta Kom, Nizam Onur Sonmez, Yagız Soylev and Erdem Tüzün.

The 2018 Venice Biennale is curated by Irish architecture duo Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of Dublin-based studio Grafton Architects. The 16th Venice Architecture Biennale will open on 26 May 2018 until 25 November.

From the Middle East, Saudi Arabia will be making its inaugural appearance at the event, focusing on informal design process. 

The UAE Pavilion, curated by Emirati Masdar professor, Dr. Khaled Alawadi, will explore human-scale architecture in the UAE. 

UAE-based architects have also been chosen to curate this year’s Egyptian pavilion which aims to redevelop unstructured commercial spaces. 

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