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2016 Venice Biennale: The Forests of Venice

Kjellander + Sjöberg , Folkhem, Jan Åman

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Morgan Day



Swedish Institute

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Project Description


The exhibition takes place in a greenhouse built in 1894, located between the two main exhibition venues of La Biennale di Venezia - Giardini and Arsenale. The point of departure for the exhibition is Venice’s built environment, in a time when climate change and rising sea levels impose similar threats to coastal cities globally.

Venice, with its exposed geographical position is a realized utopia where it’s founders had to utilize innovations of their time in order to build a city. The city shows how architecture, urban design and technical innovation have to be in a symbiosis with nature in order to create long term living conditions. It’s a city built on the foundations of ten million trees, which is a point of departure curator Jan Åman was interested in investigating.

In a dialogue with one of the most public buildings in Venice-the Doge’s Palace, Kjellander + Sjöberg is creating an installation in solid timber in the garden adjacent to the greenhouse.

We wanted to create an informal meeting space resembling a glade in a forest; offering beautiful dappled daylight, evoking trees, branches and foliage. By inverting the Doge’s Palace, we investigated our contemporary democratic structures. Simultaneously, we wanted to combine the tactile qualities of wood and its potential as a sustainable construction material with innovation and technology, explains Stefan Sjöberg of Kjellander + Sjöberg architects.

The Forests of Venice extends inside the greenhouse where seven selected architectural practices – Architects without Borders Sweden, Arrhov Frick, DinellJohansson, Horn.Uggla, In Praise of Shadows, Carmen Izquierdo and Urbio - showcase how classical Venetian architectural and urban elements can be interpreted and translated into new strategies for our time. Once again presenting wood as the main material.
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