David Basulto, curator of “In Therapy: Nordic Countries Face to Face”—the Nordic Pavilion exhibition at the 2016 Venice Biennale—has announced that 500 submissions were received following an Open Call. Of these, 300 projects have been selected to form a contemporary survey of Nordic architecture and will form the central body of the show. Nine have been chosen as uniquely representative of the contemporary Nordic scene and will be presented in depth.
“The 300 embody what we perceive as the ‘Nordic Spirit’. Just as Sverre Fehn’s pavilion is a crystallisation of Nordic architecture—embodying a precise and fluid articulation of structure, light, and nature—the nine we have chosen to focus in on as particularly representative of the contemporary scene have a similar gravitas and complexity – but with their own distinct identities” says Basulto, who has made the selection alongside James Taylor-Foster, Assistant Curator.
“As outsiders, we are in a position from which to curatorially observe and appreciate the submitted projects for their individuality as well as for their historical, contextual and societal connections. We believe that this is an incredibly strong collection of projects indicative of the breadth, depth and nuanced challenges which Nordic architects (and, by extension, architecture) currently faces. The questions which have arisen from this survey are going to be fascinating to explore.”
About the Exhibition
The Nordic participation at the Venice biennale is a collaboration between the Museum of Finnish Architecture, Helsinki, the National Museum’s Department of Architecture, Oslo, and ArkDes – the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design, Stockholm.
In Therapy relates to Alejandro Aravena’s overall theme of the 2016 Venice Biennale “Reporting From the Front”, focusing on specific challenges being faced in the Nordic region. The Nordic nations—Finland, Norway and Sweden—have reached a pivotal point in their collective, and individual, architectural identities. The “grandfathers” of the universal Nordic style provided a foundation upon which architects and designers since have both thrived on and been confined by. The Nordic Pavilion will provide an opportunity to probe: to discuss, argue, debate and challenge what Nordic architecture really is and, perhaps more importantly, what it could be in years to come.
In Therapy will use the structure of Abraham Maslow’s 1954 ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ as an analytical lens and an observational springboard from which to explore and investigate architectural projects that have been instrumental in constructing contemporary Nordic society.
According to Basulto: “Although it might superficially appear that Finland, Norway and Sweden are at ‘the pinnacle of the pyramid’ they each, nonetheless, face difficult and distinct challenges. The exhibition will uncover the fascinating disjunction between the typical world view of the Nordic countries as highly developed, socially progressive nations, and seek to reveal the enormous challenges which they face, with architecture—as a spatial, social, and cultural practice—at its epicentre.”
“From fragmenting social integration, immigration demands and the challenge of an ageing population, to the decline of the oil industry and resultant damage to the natural landscape, beneath the surface there’s still a long way to go and much to be learnt from.”
Nine of the 300 selected projects—three within each category—have been chosen to be examined in-depth.
Architecture that cares for basic needs, encompassing (but not limited to) shelter, healthcare, and educational facilities. Having distilled and refined these core typologies, projects in this category underpin Nordic society and often act as examples to other nations.
Puukuokka Housing Block /OOPEAA Office for Peripheral Architecture
Halden Prison / HLM Arkitektur + Erik Møller Architects (Halden, Norway)
Råå Daycare Center / Dorte Mandrup
Architecture that enacts public programs and creates public space in which society gathers; the places where individuals become citizens and relate to one another. This includes (but is not limited to) sacred spaces, civic (institutional, cultural and recreational), workplace (office and retail), and infrastructural projects.
Seinäjoki City Library / JKMM Architects
Kilden / ALA Architects
The New Crematorium / Johan Celsing Architects
Architecture that recognizes and reflects upon certain processes in Nordic society, and its values. As the embodiment of a highly developed nation, projects that fall into this category have a reflective position on society and highlight its latent values (including but not limited to monuments, memorials, and projects which engage with the natural landscape).
Finnish Nature Centre /Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects
National Tourist Route Trollstigen / Reiulf
Tree Hotel / Tham & Videgård
- Råå Daycare Center, Dorte Mandrup. Photo by Adam Mørk.
- The National Tourist Route Trollstigen, Reiulf Ramstad Architects. Photo by Ken Scaluchtmann – Diephotodesigner.de.
- David Basulto, curator for the Nordic pavilion at Venice biennale 2016.
- James Taylor–Foster, assisting curator for the Nordic pavilion at Venice biennale 2016.