Biennale time means a rush of announcements, big and small, as other, smaller, events try and get into the spotlight and exploit the unmissable opportunity of having the world’s design media crammed into one place. Founded in 2007, the Triennale makes the most of Portugal’s ability to punch well above its weight on the international architecture scene. And so for many scribes, Venice kicked off in a small room up the steep, winding staircases of the Fondamenta Zattere ai Saloni in Dorsoduro.

The Triennale’s curatorial team, headed up by Éric Lapierre, announced the theme for the fifth exhibition, ‘The Poetics of Reason.’ Drawing on Aristotle’s pioneering piece of literary theory – that of all literature being assembled from a kit of elements that drive narrative forward – the Triennale examines how this might be applied to architecture. Lapierre described Lisbon as a ‘great urban operating theatre’, a ‘laboratory for the dissection of architecture’s component parts’. 

There will five central shows, including ‘The Economy of Means’, ‘Permaculture for Architects,’ ‘Inner Space’, ‘What is Ornament?’ and ‘Natural Beauty,’ and the curatorial team has all bases covered, from exploring virtual worlds to looking at ways in which architecture could re-shape the agriculture industry.

‘We’ve built more since the beginning of the 20th century than since the beginning of humanity,’ Lapierre notes. Lisbon 2019 will hopefully open up new debates about the ever-changing perception of architecture. Above all, can the historic values of architecture be diverted and directed into ever more socially and environmentally conscious ways?

Those demanding an annual architecture fix received a new date for their diaries, and the event ended with an improvised performance by Thurston Moore, smashing merry hell out of his Fender on the palazzo’s rooftop as he blended the sound of 12 distorted strings with the bells of Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute.§

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