Nordic Pavilion: Another Generosity

Sverre Fehn’s challenging legacy, from Expo ’70 to the Venetian pavilion, inspires but also undermines the Nordic countries’ reflection on “another generosity”.

“AnotherGenerosity”, Nordic Pavilion, Venice Architecture Biennale 2018. Photo Andrea Ferro Photography

The inflatable structure designed by Sverre Fehn for the Expo in Osaka was in many ways a Scandinavian interpretation of the living capsule. The latter was the ultimate obsession of the Japanese Metabolist Movement, which reached its highest point precisely at the 1970 universal exhibition. Hinting at this famous precedent, the large-scale air-balloons set-up by curators Eero Lundén and Julia Kauste are the main characters of an installation which puts into question an exclusively anthropocentric approach to architecture. 

In fact, these bubbles react and respond to the light and climate conditions inside the pavilion, rather than relating directly to the presence of visitors – who, for their part, hesitate between the curiosity to discover their contents and the fear of being swallowed. Therefore, their volatile shapes and colors stems directly from their environment, which they make visible through their evolutions.    

Nordic Pavilion, Another Generosity, Venice Biennale 2018
“AnotherGenerosity”, Nordic Pavilion, Venice Architecture Biennale 2018. Photo Andrea Ferro Photography

At every single Biennale, the quality of Fehn’s poetic pavilion is a tough standard of comparison to equal for the shows that it hosts, and even more so for the 16th International Architecture Exhibition. On this occasion, the permanent shell seems to narrate the possibility of “another generosity” for architecture, addressed to nature rather than to mankind, in a much more straightforward, intense and restrained way than its content – despite it being of great impact. The installation expands and retracts; it lightens up, whistles and buzzes. The building and the three trees crossing it, instead, merely observe the performance, unperturbed and slightly condescending. They are possibly aware that, after more than half a century, they still stand out as one of the best built examples of the “symbiotic coexistence (…) between nature and the built environment” invoked by the curators.

Another Generosity
Eero Lundén, Juulia Kauste (Finland)
Giardini della Biennale di Venezia
Opening dates:
26 May – 25 November 2018
Sestiere Castello, Venice

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