Thursday, October 03, 2013


The visual arts aren’t the only ones who head off to Venice every couple of years. The film folk do it and so too do the architects. At least one NZ project was invited to the 2012 Architectural Biennale directed by David Chipperfield but funding  (public or private) proved impossible. The next one is being directed by megastar Rem Koolhaas and he has announced it will be called Fundementals, a Biennale about architecture, not architects. That’s going to be a lot of egos to damp down for a start.

This time round it looks like NZ will be up for it. The NZ Institute of Architects has taken charge of fund raising (with the caveat that if it doesn't hit its goal the train won't leave the station). To kick things off it has launched a competition to find a ‘Creative Director.” The job is to devise the exhibition and arrange freighting and installation. All this is to be achieved between the appointment mid-next month and June 2014. At five months this is almost exactly a year less that the time it takes to make the visual arts exhibition in Venice (Simon Denny's selection was announced yesterday for the 2015 Biennale that also kicks off in June).

The amount available for materials, fabrication, sub-contractor and consultant costs, plus the cost of transporting, installing and de-installing the exhibition is $50,000. By way of comparison the visual arts representation at Venice costs around $1 million and New Zealand spent around $6 million attending the Frankfurt Book Fair last year and almost certainly spent more than $50,000 on the architecturally designed stand.

Koolhaas has said he wants each country’s exhibitors to “show, each in their own way, the process of the erasure of national characteristics in favour of the almost universal adoption of a single modern language in a single repertoire of typologies.” Take that Regionalism. Still if you look at Koolhaas’s buildings in China he certainly puts his global architecture where his mouth is. In their brief the NZIA suggests the NZ Creative Director might want to 'reflect, provoke, challenge or elaborate on the Koolhaas theme. Lets hope they go for good hard kick in its butt.

You can read the AI's briefing paper here