Venice Architecture Biennale 2016: The Spanish Pavilion focuses on unfinished structures in the wake of the 2008 financial crash and architects who are developing a “radical” approach to rebuilding Spain.
Titled Unfinished, the pavilion presents a series of photographs of incomplete construction projects, alongside 55 recent buildings that demonstrate a range of solutions to working under economic constraints.
According to co-curator and architect Iñaqui Carnicero, the economic crisis – which hit Spain harder than many other European countries – forced local architects to become more resourceful.
The exhibition is a direct response to Biennale curator Alejandor Aravena’s request for architects to show work that responds to the major challenges in their countries as part of his theme, Reporting from the Front. The Spanish Pavilion was awarded the Golden Lion for best national pavilion at the 2016 Biennale.
Carnicero and fellow curator and architect Carlos Quintáns Eiras collected photographs by seven different artists of structures they describe as “contemporary ruins”. These are displayed in the pavilion’s central space on steel frames hanging for the ceiling, and range from major construction projects to small private houses and apartments.
Carnicero said there were few places on earth where so many unnecessary construction projects had been started in such a short period of time, and then abandoned because they couldn’t be finished or maintained after the economy collapsed.
“Many of the buildings that were under construction remain unfinished,” said Carnicero. “We wanted to present this problem, but we didn’t want to do it in a narrative way. We didn’t want to find who was guilty or be complaining about it.”
“When you look at these pictures you discover a certain beauty, the beauty of architecture in process, the beauty of things that are meant to be hidden,” he said.
The rooms around the main space are devoted to displaying 55 contemporary projects in Spain or by Spanish architects, grouped into nine categories.