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The Visions Of Asian Architects At This Year’s Venice Architecture Biennale

A preview of how architects from throughout the Asian region respond to Venice Architecture Biennale 2018’s theme of FREESPACE with thoughtful presentations, intriguing installations, and more.

  • Rendering of Singapore's national pavilion

  • Rendering by Jun Igarashi

  • Rendering by MVRDV

  • Illustrations by Tang Hua Associates

BY Leanne Mirandilla

18 May, 2018

This year’s Venice Architecture Biennale is all about space. Titled FREESPACE, the exhibition’s theme was set by biennale directors Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of Ireland-based firm Grafton Architects, and aims to examine both the individual creative freedoms of architecture as well as the relationship between architecture and public space.

Joining leading architects of the Western world, such as Peter Zumthor and Bjarke Ingles in the exhibition are some of the Asian region’s most revered architects such as Indonesian architect Andra Matin, who’s well-known for his clean, modern designs, among those including the minimalist-chic boutique hotel Katamama in Seminyak, Bali, which prominently features Indonesian crafts throughout the property.

There’s also Vietnamese architect Vo Trong Nghia of his eponymous firm VTN Architects, who champions sustainable design through a unique blend of local materials and traditional craftsmanship with contemporary looks. Also joining them are a number of firms hailing from China, Japan, India, and Bangladesh.

Of course, there are also the national pavilions that will be present at the venues of Giardini and Arsenale, as well as throughout the rest of Venice. Among these are offerings from Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, The Philippines and Thailand.

Of particular note is Singapore’s No More Free Space?, which puts the spotlight on the Singaporean architects, urban planners, and other designers who have taken the country’s challenging lack of space in stride through creating imaginative free spaces that improve citizens’ lives, often incorporating natural elements such as greenery.

The centrepiece bringing together the 12 showcased Singaporean projects is an otherworldly cloud installation made with handcrafted acrylic knots surrounded by a projection of lights and images of Singapore.

The pavilion is commissioned by the DesignSingapore Council (Dsg) of the Ministry of Communications and Information, and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), and curated by the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) in collaboration with the National University of Singapore’s Department of Architecture (NUS). 

Hong Kong will be showcasing 111 white towers designed by 94 architects in Vertical Fabric: Density in Landscape, an exhibition dedicated to Hong Kong’s quintessential verticality.

Rendering by Jun Igarashi

The tower models present a variety of perspectives on both the constraints and the potential of the typical skyscraper, while also envisioning new potentials for the structure and prompting people to think about urban landscapes in a different way.

Renderings by Maggie Wu (left) and Boonserm Premthada (right)

Among the 94 architects are local names such as Rocco YimClover Lee and Maggie Wu, as well as international names the likes of MVRDVJun Igarashi and Boonserm Premthada.

Rendering by MVRDV

The Venice Architecture Biennale will be open to the public from May 26 to November 25, 2018. Lookout for our coverage!

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