Venice Biennale 2008

Furnivehicle-mobile garden furniture in the shape of a train
(Image credit: press)

It is increasingly hard to ignore that travel is taking over a huge chunk of our daily lives – the Wallpaper* jet-setting bunch’s sense of mobility is renowned. So why shouldn’t architecture join the fun?

Furnivehicle-mobile garden furniture in the shape of a train

(Image credit: press)

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Both Japan-based Atelier Bow-Wow, and Fantastic Norway showcased their take on the subject with great enthusiasm in this year’s Biennale, coordinating with the 'Beyond Building' theme – certainly building beyond fixed foundations.

Yoshi Tsukamoto of Atelier Bow-Wow proudly showed us around his Furnivehicle, a type of mobile garden furniture in the shape of a train, displayed in Betsky’s Arsenale show. Such a shame the original plan, which had it going up and down the Arsenale, didn’t work out!

On the Giardini front we saw Erlend Blakstad Haffner and Håkon Matre Aasarød’s Fantastic caravan, parked near the entrance, and their contribution to the Padiglione Italia exhibition explaining their work recipe, which delightfully includes, among other things, a red caravan and waffles.

From trains and caravans, to the nautical theme of the IUAV University of Venice ‘Architecture of the ship and yacht’ exhibition, and even MVRDV’s Skycar City in the Arsenale, presenting a digital future of a flying-car-flooded city, a sense of movement was certainly present in this year’s Biennale.

The debate’s result, about whether or not a bright new architectural world relies on mobile solutions, was left yet uncertain, as energy and sustainability issues were unavoidably present, but the shows still offered a welcoming platform for interesting voices to be heard.

After all, Venice’s concentration of architects from around the word for a single event is concrete proof that everybody is on the move; which is a good thing for us, because otherwise we wouldn’t have had the chance to speak to Tsukamoto, or to one half of the Fantastic Norway duo. Fighting through Venice’s torrential downpour last weekend, we caught up with both and talked about their work, and their perception of a mobile world.

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).