An art exhibit at the Venice Biennale hopes to inspire a conversation about creating more interesting architectural spaces.
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Each year the Venice Biennale organizes a huge international exhibition of art, architecture, music, film and theatre. This year, the Swiss Arts Council, Pro Helvetia, has designed an exhibit for the Biennale. Called the Swiss Pavilion, the council hopes to draw attention to the blandness of most interior design. In Switzerland, most people live in rented accommodation and frequently move. As a result, many apartments have a standardized appearance. The creators of the pavilion believe there should be more debate about why so much rental architecture is banal. The intention of the pavillion is to draw to attention the usually overlooked features such as white walls, plastic window frames and wood floors.
To create the pavilion, curators collected hundreds of photographs of almost identically decorated apartments. In the pavilion, these ordinary fixtures and fittings are scaled up and down to emphasise the uniformity of most buildings. For example, a giant door leads into a room with a high ceiling. Similarly, huge windows and a kitchen fitted with a countertop is set at a level only suitable for a giant. In another room, a tiny door takes visitors into a room where everything has been scaled to a miniature size.
According to pavilion co-curator Alessandro Bosshard, “Everything seems familiar to you but if you continue then you realise it’s not what you expect … it’s asking what kind of architecture are we surrounded by all the time.” In recent years, there has been a renewed focus on using design and architecture to make a positive impact on society. Innovations have included a seafront library designed to encourage rest and the love of books and affordable custom interior design. The creators of the Swiss Pavilion hope that by turning people into “house tourists” they will generate a greater awareness of how to create living spaces that are more generous and engage the world in new ways. How else can architecture tackle the issues of scale in domestic space?