La Biennale di Venezia (Venice Biennale) was founded in 1895 and is now one of the most famous and prestigious cultural organizations in the world. Paolo Baratta has been its President since 2008 and before that from 1998 to 2001. La Biennale, who stands at the forefront of research and promotion of new contemporary art trends, organizes exhibitions and research in all its specific departments: Arts (1895), Architecture (1980), Cinema (1932), Dance (1999), Music (1930), and Theatre (1934). Its history is documented at the Historical Archives of Contemporary Arts (ASAC) that has been completely renovated in recent years. The event is one of the most prominent architecture events in the world and, for 2018 Venice Biennale, the Chinese pavilion aims for the future, demonstrating what China’s future countryside looks like.
One of the major challenges facing contemporary built environments is the future of rural development. In China, the countryside has become a new frontier for experiments in this area, and the country is developing its countryside at a speed and scale unseen in the West. Drawn by the promise of boundless opportunity, architects, artists, developers—as well as capital flow—are converging in rural areas across the nation.
The return to pastoral life has long been an ideal of Chinese literary tradition. In modern times, living in rural areas typically involves aspects such as policy, capital, infrastructure, and technology. While modernization and technological progress promise us better lives with modern living conditions, they also, to some extent, sever the link between rural life and tradition. Faced with mass-produced rural housing brought on by urbanization, architects attempt to find a middle ground between tradition and modernization, taking advantage of modern technology in search of a vernacular connection.
Entering the Pavilion, following the exhibition’s route, the main projects are:
- Wood Kiln Bing Ding / Zhang Lei, AZL Architects
- Xinzhai Coffee Manor / Hua Li, Trace Architecture Office – TAO
- An Old-new House / John Lin + Joshua Bolchover, Rural Urban Framework
- Cidi Memo, a Town of Memory / Liu Yuyang, Atelier Liu Yuyang Architects
- Mountain Dwelling. Waterside Dwelling. Forest Dwelling / Dong Yugan
- In Bamboo / Philip F. Yuan, Archi-Union Architects, co. Ltd
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Dr. Li Xiangning is Deputy Dean and Full Professor in History, Theory and Criticism at Tongji University College of Architecture and Urban Planning. He is a member of CICA (Comité International des Critiques d’Architecture), he has worked as the curator for numerous exhibitions and has published widely on contemporary Chinese architecture and urbanism. He is Chief Editor of Architecture China and President of Architecture China Foundation. Furthermore, he has been working with international museums and institutes and he has been a jury member to many international awards and competitions.
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