The Swiss Pavilion has been awarded the prestigious Golden Lion for best National Participation at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, by the jury headed by Sofia von Ellrichsausen and including Frank Barlow, Kate Goodwin, Patricia Patkau and Pier Paolo Tamburelli.
The exhibition Svizzera 240: House Tour, was praised as decidedly “enjoyable”, but most of all as a compelling attempt to “tackle the issue of scale in domestic space”. The prize was delivered to Marianne Burki, Sandi Paucic and Rachele Giudici Legittimo from the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, together with architects and curators Alessandro Bosshard, Li Tavor, Matthew van der Ploeg and Ani Vihervaara. They also stressed the “humour” embedded in their show – which aims at bringing to light the “peculiarities of each one’s own home from the perspective of an outsider” – while remembering that their main wish is that it will function as a “platform for experiment and research”.
A special mention within the same category went to Island, the proposal of the British Pavilion, curated by Caruso St John Architects and Marcus Taylor.
The Lions and mentions for the best participants in the International Exhibition Freespace were awarded to Portuguese Pritzker-winner Eduardo Souto de Moura (Golden Lion), the Belgian trio of Jan de Vylder, Inge Vinck and Jo Taillieu (Silver Lion for promising young participant), Indonesian architect Andra Matin and Indian architects Rahul Merhotra and Nondita Correa Merhotra, from RMA Architects (special mentions).
The opening speech by President Paolo Baratta and the final comment by Kenneth Frampton, who received the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achivement, defined the frame leading to the selection of the awarded participants: the former insisted on the crucial role of Biennale in the battlefield of contemporary architectural culture and communication, using such words as “battle”, “weapons” and “warriors”, whereas the latter noticed that the concept of freespace and that of “desire” shall never be separated.