Venice Architecture Biennale 2014 preview: the top 25 exhibitions to visit

Section of the installation
(Image credit: courtesy La Biennale di Venezia, © Rem Koolhaas)

Fundamentals: Monditalia
This year's Venice Architecture Biennale is curated by Rem Koolhaas and takes the theme of Fundamentals. Set in the Corderie of the Arsenale, Monditalia is one of the three core elements. It will mix architecture with Venice's dance, music, theatre and cinema biennales for the first time. Together these biennales will offer a series of temporary structures, activities and interventions, forming a comprehensive image of the host country. 

Corderie dell'Arsenale, Arsenale, Campo della Tana
7 June-23 November,

Visualisation of the entrance

Visualisation of the entrance

(Image credit: press)

Luminaire: entrance installation by Rem Koolhaas/OMA and Swarovski 
The Arsenale will welcome its visitors through Luminaire, a unique collaboration between head curator Rem Koolhaas, his practice OMA and Swarovski. An archway made of thousands of coloured light bulbs and Swarovski crystals will form a majestic entrance to this section of the Venice Biennale. The sparkling façade will be a large-scale urban lighting installation that references Italian culture and the Monditalia programme within.

Entrance to Corderie dell'Arsenale, Arsenale, Campo della Tana
7 June-23 November,

Progress model of the exhibition

Progress model of the exhibition

(Image credit: Courtesy La Biennale di Venezia, © Rem Koolhaas)

Fundamentals: Elements of Architecture 
Elements of Architecture is the third section in the Architecture Biennale's official roster of events, and it looks to the past, present and future of the craft. The exhibition analyses various architectural elements - such as the humble floor, wall, window, ceiling, roof, balcony and stair - and explores their historic, political and cultural expressions. 

Giardini, Central Pavilion, Sestiere Castello
7 June-22 November,

Design for the Rotunda of the Bank of England

'A Vision of Sir John Soane's Design for the Rotunda of the Bank of England as a Ruin'

(Image credit: Joseph Gandy, 1789, © Sir John Soane Museum)

British Pavilion: A Clockwork Jerusalem
Organised by the British Council and curated by Crimson Architectural Historians along with London architects FAT, this year's British Pavilion will recount the rise and fall of British Modernity. The exhibition will depict British Modernism as a cultural movement - from 'the moment when the country was at its most socially, politically and architecturally ambitious, but also the moment that witnessed its collapse'. To bring these ideas to life, A Clockwork Jerusalem will display drawings, artefacts and an immersive installation.

Giardini, Sestiere Castello
7 June-23 November,

Layout of the exhibition

Layout of the exhibition

(Image credit: © Leong Leong)

US Pavilion: OfficeUS
This year's US Pavilion, curated by Eva Franch, Ana Miljački and Ashley Schafer, will look to both the past and future, focusing on some of the country's key architecture projects. It will also challenge the classical typology of the pavilion by creating a large, collective workspace with a feature wall of architectural documentation from 1,000 buildings and 200 offices. OfficeUS will propose an alternative model for global architectural production, proposing solutions for the industry's most fundamental issues.

Giardini, Sestiere Castello
7 June-22 November,

Cedric Price Fun Palace Interior

Cedric Price Fun Palace Interior perspective, 1964

(Image credit: press)

Switzerland Pavilion: Lucius Burckhardt and Cedric Price: A Stroll through a Fun Palace
The Swiss Pavilion is overseen by London-based curator Hans-Ulrich Obrist. By engaging with the work of two visionaries, Lucius Burckhardt and Cedric Price, the exhibition will function as a school exploring the future of architecture. The two retrospectives will serve as 'toolboxes to invent the future', with help from an installation by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron and a contemporary courtyard by Atelier Bow-Wow.

Giardini, Sestiere Castello
7 June-22 November,

The Glass Tea House

The Glass Tea House Mondrian by Hiroshi Sugimoto

(Image credit: press)

The Glass Tea House Mondrian by Hiroshi Sugimoto
Japanese artist and photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto will take over the exhibition spaces of Le Stanze del Vetro with a unique temporary glass pavilion and retrospective of his architectural photography. The structure, acting as the centrepiece, was inspired by the Japanese tradition of the tea ceremony - an activity that will be performed regularly throughout the Architecture Biennale. At the same time, the exhibition Ilha de São Jorge, curated by Beyond Entropy, will be on display at the Piccolo Teatro Hall of the Fondazione Cini. It will highlight, through a series of short films, the acceptance of modernity in the five Portuguese-speaking African republics.  

Le Stanze del Vetro and front gardens, Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore 1
7 June-22 November,

Built project on Yang Mei Zhu street

MicroHutong, 2013, built project on Yang Mei Zhu street, Dashilar, by Zhang Ke and standardarchitecture. courtesy standardarchitecture 

(Image credit: Photography by Chen Su)

Across Chinese Cities: Beijing
Organised by Beijing Design Week and Dontstop Architettura, this exhibition is an investigation into the Chinese capital's social and spatial transformations, with a particular focus on the district of Dashilar, frequently described as a 'city within the city'. The exhibition will include a map installation and timeline of the city as well as a presentation of six pilot projects for the regeneration of Dashilar. A curated film programme and series of talks and workshops will complement the displays.

Tesa 100 at the Arsenale Novissimo, Arsenale Nord, Castello
7 June-22 November,

EMGdotART by O-office, Venice, 2014

EMGdotART by O-office, Venice, 2014

(Image credit: press)

Displayed at Palazzo Zen, newly refurbished by Guangzhou practice O-Office, Adaptation examines the recent changes in the architectural profession in China. The exhibition is organised by EMGdotART and curated by Marino Folin and Moving Cities, and uses photography, models, sketches, objects and audio-visual installations to illustrate the theme.

Palazzo Zen, Cannaregio
7 June-22 November,

Venice Biennale

Shirazeh Houshiary and Pip Horne, East Window, 2008

(Image credit: © the artists; courtesy Lisson Gallery, London)

Genius Loci: Spirit of Place
Produced by the Lisson Gallery (also the curators) and Berengo Studio, Genius Loci: Spirit of Place is a sculpture exhibition about art in the public realm incorporating works by 15 renowned artists - Ai Weiwei and Anish Kapoor among them. An adjacent exhibition, designed by UK architects Carmody Groarke, documents some of the most significant art commissions in recent decades.

Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti, San Marco
7 June-23 November,

Section through the gorge of the Reuss River

Section through the gorge of the Reuss River in Göschenen (true-colour point cloud)

(Image credit: © Chair Girot - ETH Zurich/Pascal Werner (LVML))

Gotthard Landscape: The Unexpected View
This research-based exhibition examines the impact of NEAT, the world's longest Alpine tunnel, set to open in 2016, on the historic Gotthard Range in the Alps. Gotthard Landscape: The Unexpected View studies and documents both the visible and invisible changes to the landscape, mapping them in an 'interactive digital sculpture' created with point cloud technology.

Palazzo Trevisan degli Ulivi, Campo Sant'Agnese, Dorsoduro 810
Sunday 8 June – Saturday 20 July & Saturday 5 September – Sunday 5 October,

Juan Apartment in Barcelona

Juan Apartment in Barcelona, 2011, Vora Arquitectura

(Image credit: press)

Grafting Architecture: Catalonia at Venice
Organised by the Institut Ramon Llull and curated by Josep Torrents i Alegre, this exhibition will focus on the changing nature of Catalan Architecture, examining how it reinvents its traditions and contrasts with global architecture. Twelve projects will illustrate particular approaches to process and to perceptions of the built environment. 

Cantieri Navali, Calle Quintavalle, Castello
6 June-22 November,

The Barcelona studio of Ricardo Bofill

The Barcelona studio of Ricardo Bofill, Taller de Arquitectura 

(Image credit: press)

Time Space Existence
This exhibition, curated by the Global Art Affairs Foundation, will feature 100 architects from 40 countries, showing work across two Venetian palazzi. The exhibits ask key philosophical questions concerning time, space and existence. Participant architects include Eduardo Souto de Moura, Foster + Partners and ZEST Architecture. Also on display is Wallpaper* Handmade's Passage of Wood installation, designed by Swedish practice In Praise of Shadows, Dinesen and Oliver Beer of Werkraum.

Palazzo Bembo, Riva del Carbon, and Palazzo Mora, Strada Nova
7 June-22 November,

Township of Domestic Parts Made in Taiwan

Township of Domestic Parts: Made in Taiwan

(Image credit: press)

Township of Domestic Parts: Made in Taiwan
Taking its cue from the idea of 'domesticity' in the Taiwanese context, this exhibition will feature structures that are too small to be architecture and too large to be furniture. Designed by Jimenez Lai of Chicago practice Bureau Spectacular, the nine 'superfurnitures' will form an interior of diverse parts, which visitors are invited to explore. Each of these will represent different patterns of domesticity, named, for example, House of Sleep, House of Pleasure and House of Work.

Palazzo delle Prigioni, Castello
5 June-22 November,

The Venice Biennale Preview


(Image credit: © Georges Fessy)

Young Architects in Africa
Following its New Chinese Architecture and Young Arab Architects editions, the Venice practice CA'ASI will exhibit the laureates and nominees for its Young Architects in Africa competition. The display will feature three laureates and nine nominees, and highlight projects that demonstrate creativity and young architectural talent across the continent.

Campiello Santa Maria Nova, Cannaregio
7 June-22 November,

Contemporary buildings collage

Moscow, contemporary buildings collage

(Image credit: press)

Moskva: Urban Space
Over the past 100 years, Moscow's urban planning has undergone a dramatic shift towards public space. Hanging above visitors' heads across a dark corridor, the city's history unfolds here in an animated installation of photographs that morph into a film reel. Depicting Moscow's future, a panorama of the Zaryadye Park - one of the city's most ambitious schemes, designed by US studio Diller Scofidio + Renfro - is on display in another room.

Santa Maria della Pietá, Spazio Cappella, Spazio Cavana, Sestiere Castello
7 June-23 November,  

Installation progress sketch

Installation progress sketch

(Image credit: © Javier Corvalan)

Pavilion of Paraguay: Aqua Alta
Paraguay's pavilion looks at the concept of modernity in the geographical, social and economical context of the South American country, touching on ideas of resources and waste. Developing the installation structurally and conceptually into a participatory experience, the team explores water as an element of identity: 'Paraguay' in the local Guaraní language means 'water that runs toward the sea'. 

Liceo Artistico Statale Michelangelo Guggenheim, Dorsoduro
7 June-23 November,

Installation models presented in Barcelona

Installation models presented in Barcelona in 2013

(Image credit: Courtesy of Fundació Mies van der Rohe)

Made in Europe
This show, organiseInstallation models presented in Barcelona in 2013, courtesy of Fundació Mies van der Rohe
d by the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture 'Mies van der Rohe Award', presents a current snapshot of European architecture. Presenting an impressive 193 architectural models of buildings that have spanned the organisation's history, the show is complemented by a visualisation of the awards' 2,500 proposals.
Palazzo Michiel dal Brusà, Cannaregio
7 June-31 July, 

Model shot,

Model shot

(Image credit: © Jan Bitter)

M9/Transforming the City
This exhibition celebrates Venice's new M9 City District development, which covers 9,200 sq m in Mestre and includes a new museum and the restoration of a 17th-century convent and 1960s office building. The project touches upon issues of urban regeneration on Venice's mainland, heralding a new era for the wider region. The design was headed by German practice Sauerbruch Hutton and spearheaded by the Fondazione di Venezia.

Fondazione di Venezia, Dorsoduro Rio Novo
7 June-23 November,

The Yenikapi Transfer Point and Archaeo park 

The Yenikapi Transfer Point and Archaeo-park 

(Image credit: press)

The Yenikapi project
The Yenikapi project, on show at the Zuecca Project Space, draws parallels between the architecture and society of Istanbul and Venice. The curator highlights the ancient mercantile trade links between Venice and the historic area of Yenikapi in Istanbul, and emphasises the Eastern-facing cultural history of Venice through its contemporary art and architecture. On display will be the 'Yenikapi Transfer Point and Archaeo-park' project by Peter Eisenman and Aytaç Architects, which includes a park, an archaeological museum and a transit hub.

Zuecca Project Space, Zitelle Palladian Complex, Guidecca
7 June-23 November,,

Exhibition section, Planta

Exhibition section, PLANTA

(Image credit: press)

Fundació Sorigué commissioned and Domain and Armin Linke designed this exhibition based on KAAN Architecten's proposal for a building partly sunk into a Spanish quarry. PLANTA will be displayed in three parts: a scale model, an audio-visual installation and a sound room. The unique show is meant to highlight Fundació Sorigué's legacy and provide a place for reflection, research and communication.

Sertum concept for desert inhabitation

The In Sertum concept for desert inhabitation

(Image credit: BAO + Ultra Architettura)

Morocco Pavilion: Fundamental(ism)s
Morocco is one of the new additions to this year's Venice Architecture Biennale. Its pavilion will narrate the journey of urban and architectural ambition in Morocco, focusing on the theme of 'habitation'. The presentation includes one building per decade over the past 100 years, as well as a series of contemporary speculations around the inhabitation of the Sahara.
Arsenale, Campo della Tana
7 June-23 November,

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki 

(Image credit: FJMT and Archimedia, © John Gollings)

New Zealand Pavilion: Last, Loneliest, Loveliest
Exhibiting for the first time, New Zealand presents a century-long journey through the country's architectural history, from the traditional Māori structures to current dominant international influences. In keeping with Pacific architectural styles, the centrepiece of the exhibition will be a suspended lightweight structure with a chronological anthology of the country's architecture imprinted on its sides.

Palazzo Pisani Santa Marina, Calle de le Erbe
7 June-23 November, 

View from the observation deck of Sapphire

View from the observation deck of Sapphire, Levent, Istanbul

(Image credit: Ali Taptık, 2014, courtesy of the artist)

Pavilion of Turkey: Places of Memory
Turkey is another newcommer to the Venice Biennale's National programme. This exhibition will be a detailed discussion about the perception and experiences of three places in Istanbul that are significant for curator Murat Tabanlıoğlu. The pavilion will also host a large international student workshop. 

Sale d'Armi Nord, Arsenale, Campo della Tana
7 June-23 November 2014,

The Halley VI Antarctic Station

The Halley VI Antarctic Station

(Image credit: Hugh Broughton Architects, © James Morris)

The Antarctic Pavilion: Antarctopia
Antarctica is the first continent to be represented at the Venice Biennale, with its pavilion drawing on the creativity of leading international architects like Zaha Hadid, Juergen Mayer H and Alexander Brodsky. Antarctopia invites the participants to explore and display present and future ways of living in Antarctica, one of the world's most inaccessible terrestrial regions.

Fondaco Marcello, Grand Canal
7 June-23 November

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).

With contributions from