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Venice Biennale Catalog Picks

August 08, 2016 /

Won't have a chance to visit the Venice Architecture Biennale this year? Fortunately the pavilion exhibition catalogs offer you an opportunity to learn all about the research presented without ever having to leave the comfort of your own couch. As part of arcspace's on-going coverage of the biennale we're bringing you our favorites so you know which ones to check out first.

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Home Economics (British Pavilion)

Home Economics is the most beautifully designed and bound of all the pavilion catalogs. It is a 160-page hardcover book featuring a polemic image debossed into the cover reading "THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE TO THE MORTGAGE." This sentiment of bleakness is maintained throughout the book as it proposes alternative futures for the home through five new models for domestic life arranged through different periods of time. These timescales - hours, days, months, years, and decades correspond to how long each proposal is to be called 'home'. While the proposal often conjure up thoughts reminiscent of dwellings from too far distant future sci-fi films, it's refreshing to see such a constructive and practical approach to housing problems that are facing the world all over.

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The catalog is available to buy here

You can read arcspace's interview with the British Pavilion curators here
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Making Heimat. (German Pavilion)

'Heimat' is a german concept that doesn't translate easily into other languages. It means the place where one was born or resides permanently but unlike the english word 'home' which denotes a physical place that we live, 'Heimet' is much more than that and is something that we carry within ourselves through our family's customs and stories. Making Heimat. Germany, Arrival Country uses this concept of 'heimat' to place itself at the front of one of the world's greatest challenges right now, the refugee crisis. Through eight different chapters, each titled 'The Arrival City', this catalog outlines different strategies for immigrant integration that are successfully being implemented around Germany. Making Heimat. Germany, Arrival Country is rather text heavy but the articles are short, specific to a certain problem, and easily digested. They provide a wealth of information and more importantly provide hope to a situation that can sometimes feel unsolvable. If you feel passionately about the refugee crisis, make sure to purchase this catalog.

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The catalog is available to buy here
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The Baltic Atlas (The Baltic Pavilion)

The Baltic Pavilion was one of the standout exhibitions at this year's biennale and so it's no surprise that The Baltic Atlas is one of the standout catalogs. While most pavilion's catalogs present an expanded look at the work shown within the exhibition, The Baltic Atlas is a piece of work in its own right. The curators have used this publication as an opportunity to commission 30 new works that could sit alongside their exhibition but also be read independently of it. This beautifully bound hardcover catalog presents an expanded look at the influences and processes currently shaping infrastructural and built space within the Baltic region. Just like the pavilion exhibition, The Baltic Atlas, has curated a range of texts from authors outside of the architectural profession including politicians, ambassadors, investment bankers, ecologist, and anthropologists, that give insight into the new frontiers that architects will soon have to face.

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The catalog is available to buy here 

You can read arcspace's interview with one of the Baltic Pavilion curators here
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New Riches (French Pavilion)

Architecture is generally seen as a privilege for the elite. However, there was a time when architecture, determined more by economic and social developments, was provided for everybody. New Riches, the title of the exhibition and catalog from the French Pavilion, attempts to reconnect architecture with everyone. This 400-page hardcover is composed of the same material, taken from the same projects, and organised under the same themes as the exhibition displayed at the biennale. It presents twelve projects in detail which are supposed to represent ordinary architecture in familiar territories. This book reports on the world outside of 'starchitecture', the less visible yet emerging, which reveals unsuspected riches in unknown regions. Each project is told like a story and is illustrated richly with pictures, diagrams and characteristic sectional perspectives.

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The catalog is available to buy here 
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The FAR Game (Korean Pavilion)

The FAR Game refers to the density battle that is currently being fought by architects in Seoul. FAR or Floor Area Ratio determines the amount of buildable area that is able to be built on a site and is the main concern of cities currently dealing with the issue of hyper-density. This 300-page catalog is an excellent resource for architects who are interested in the city and urban living. Using very clear diagrams and text it provides tools for both the analysis of current urban conditions as well as innovative design strategies and alternative models for urban regeneration that manipulate planning laws for the benefit of society. The catalog also includes essays and interviews from well known practitioners such as Rowan Moore (The Guardian)  and Winy Maas (MVRDV).

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The catalog is available to buy here

You can read arcspace's interview with the Korean Pavilion curator here

arcspace.com is run by the Danish Architecture Centre, who is also commissioner for the Danish pavilion at the Venice Biennale.

Read more about the Danish Pavilion 2016 here

The Danish Pavilion catalog is available to buy here

Last updated: August 10, 2016

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