The 8th Architecture Biennale in Venice opened on September 8 and ended on November 3. This year’s edition was curated by Deyan Sudjic who was looking for something far more pragmatic than the highly conceptual Biennale Massimiliano Fuksas had put on two years ago. In Sudjic’s hands, “Next” as he called it represented architecture as something material and substantially made up of straightforward, easily interpreted structures.

Staged in the Arsenale, the exhibition presented simply and accurately composed groupings of imminent projects by various architects, not all of them celebrity figures, in a variety of formats that ranged from the ultra-traditional to the digital experiments of the younger practitioners. The Housing section opened with a large model of the imposing Great Wall Village designed by a team of ten architects, most of them Chinese, which consists of a series of residential blocks set behind China’s magnificent monument.

This was followed by a series of projects using new materials or innovative shapes, all of which sought to balance tradition and modernity. It was brave of Sudjic to devote a section to skyscrapers at this time. Of course this may be the easiest place to probe new architectural trends, given the theoretical soul-searching that has gone on since September 11.

Among the national pavilions, Italy staged the most spectacular projects planned for the next few years. Notable among them, the European Library designed by Bolles and Wilson to be built in Milan and the Rome EUR Conference Centre designed by Massimiliano Fuksas.

The article continues in Auto & Design no. 136

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