The Central Pavilion at Giardini and the Arsenale in Venice, Italy is known for the very prestigious exhibits artists and architects alike show to the world.  And right now, it is trashed.  I am speaking literal on this statement.  There is 100 tons (yes, tons) of trash hanging in the entrance hall of the Central Pavilion.  When I say trash, I am not talking about huge piles of garbage scattered across the room.  You will be surprised how beautiful trash could possibly look.


             Armadillo Vault is a pioneering stone structure that supports itself without any glue

                                                    Photo by: Luke Hayes

This year, the world’s largest art exhibit by Alejandro Aravena, who is also the winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize (talk about prestigious), has used last year’s trash from Venice’s Art Biennale. Alejandro is a Chilean architect known for his creative approaches to designing affordable housing. He added textured stucco walls to the pavilion using 107,000 square feet of dry wall and hung huge slabs of chrome-colored metal from the ceiling giving off the illusion of streamers.  Each detail of Aravena’s exhibit is skillfully put into place.  The trash is intentionally arranged very architecturally and artful-creating a true masterpiece.



                                                                     Photo by: Luke Hayes


According to Aravena, the whole point of the exhibit is that any kind of constraints an architect faces should not prevent their own inventiveness.  “Value is not based on the quality of material, but on creative and distinctive use instead,” Aravena said in a recent statement.  This is also the theme of this year’s Biennale: creating in the face of challenges, or “Reporting from the front.”  Aravena was influenced by archaeologist Maria Reiche who studied the pre-Incan culture in Peru, according to his anecdote:


         In his trip to South America, Bruce Chatwin encountered an old lady walking in the desert carrying an aluminum ladder           on her shoulder. It was… Maria Reiche, studying the Nazca lines. Standing on the ground, the stones did not make                  any sense; they were just random gravel. But from the height of the ladder those stones became a bird, a jaguar, a                   tree, or a flower.


         Maria Reiche did not have the resources to rent a plane to study the lines from above, nor was there the technology to            have a drone flying over the desert. But she was creative enough to still find a way to achieve her goal. The modest                  ladder is the proof that we shouldn’t blame the harshness of constraints for our incapacity to do our job…We would like          the 15th International Architecture Exhibition to offer a new point of view like the one Maria Reiche has from atop the               ladder.           


                   Arsenale entrance exhibition at Venice Biennale 2016

                                                                Photo by: Luke Hayes


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