What we know about the Italian Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2023

A generational snapshot, a pavilion the size of a country. Fosbury Architecture discusses Spaziale and its 9 projects, Italian participation at Lesley Lokko’s Biennale.

We will most likely reach the opening of Biennale 2023 without any anticipation of what shapes and visual features to expect from the interiors of the Pavilion overlooking the Darsena in Venice’s Arsenale.
Still, this might also be the first time when knowing such fatures in advance could not be essential: in the project curated by Fosbury Architecture (Giacomo Ardesio, Alessandro Bonizzoni, Nicola Campri, Veronica Caprino, Claudia Mainardi), the surface of the Italian Pavilion is the surface of Italy itself. As already revealed in these months with Spaziale presenta, the first phase of the project, the content is made by the activation of nine different projects on the national territory, of which the container-pavilion will be a conceptual and formal synthesis.

These projects envision the possibility of a different understanding for the meaning of “making architecture”, as Fosbury has confirmed to Domus, especially now that architecture is being made by a generation that has grown up through a scenario of almost chronic crisis, where practitioners find themselves responding to social contexts that often express needs for meaning, empathy, and reconnection to their spaces and territories. This is where the core concept of Spaziale – "Everyone belongs to everyone else" – springs, this the foundation on which Fosbury’s curatorial team has built their selection of Spazialisti (Spatialists), “those who exploit the codified tools of design to question the social conditions of the places in which they intervene”.

It is in the curatorial methodology of team building, in fact, that the two major characteristics of Spaziale can be identified: the first, being “a generational snapshot” as Giacomo Ardesio has told Domus, “and a selection of practices that in one way or another roam the perimetral areas to the classic architecture firms, both in terms of format (agencies, collectives) and scope of action, spanning from contemporary art to social design, ephemeral concepts, and participatory design”.

Fosbury Architecture, Photo by Giacomo Bianco

In terms of visible and tangible results, Claudia Mainardi ha sclarified “Concerning its legacy, Spaziale is articulated through different degrees of materiality: some projects will leave small public infrastructures in place, some others are grafted into local activation processes that are already underway, and others have even already independently received additional funding for their future development. All of them, however, are about creating space. Spaziale’s positioning is not an ode to non-built architecture. On the contrary, unlike a conventional architecture exhibition made of reproductions, models, drawings, the content of our project is architecture itself, built and activated in reality”.

Opening image: Concrete Jungle, Venice mainland, photo by Giacomo Bianco

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