Open Call. Moscow, 8 December 2019

The Pavilion will stage live the transformation project, a temporary architectural office and the in-progress working site. The space will feature all of these dimensions at once, organically curating and displaying the development of the architectural project, research and the collaborative process associated with it. The Pavilion will stage live the transformation project, a temporary architectural office and the in-progress working site. The space will feature all of these dimensions at once, organically curating and displaying the development of the architectural project, research and the collaborat sive process associated with it.

In balance between fiction and reality the Pavilion will offer an immersive look into the metabolism of a project in the making. At the Architecture Biennale 2020, the Russian Federation Pavilion will act as a temporary institution giving shape to a “new spatial contract” through an open and ever-changing dialogue between those who will inhabit and work in the Pavilion—from academics to craftsmen, from designers to activists—and the audience that will interfere and use it as a vehicle of access, discussion and knowledge, in the spirit of maximum inclusivity.The Pavilion embraces the curatorial framework of the Biennale and starts from the notion that an architectural project is by definition a meeting point of ideas and people.

During the Biennale a public program associated to the Russian Federation Pavilion will stage a number of public events to discuss the project through various formats in its wider context. The occupation of the folly will run between May and November 2020, launching the official start of the construction work, marking the year zero of a new attitude towards the spaces and image of the Pavilion. The re-design of the Pavilion is a commitment that goes beyond an exercise of set design or simple architectural accuracy, it is an occasion to rethink the relationships that the Pavilion embodies as cultural outpost in Venice. To enlarge the research and critical spectrum, participants are required to devise a project of transformation that reasons upon different trajectories:

  • The Pavilion is not just a relic of the past but rather the physical representation of Russia in a foreign country. Designed to embody Russian values of over 100 years ago, how can the project address notions of identity and cultural specificity in the age of transnational networks and movements?

  • While its general image has remained the same through time, the character of the building has changed from a welcoming array of outdoor and indoor spaces, brightened by several skylights and windows, to a more introverted box within a box indifferent to its surroundings. How can the transformation of the Pavilion forge a character that speaks once again of openness and transparency, in the spirit of the original project?

  • Situated in an extremely fragile environment the Pavilion is undeniably informed and affected by the fate of its context. What does it mean to design in a place like Venice today, epitome of the planetary climate crisis?

  • In the last thirty years we have assisted to an exponential increase of Biennales, Triennials and cultural events all around the world yet, in most cases they always require a neutral container to be filled by artists and curators. How can the specificity of the Pavilion become a cohesive component of this biennial, including the Giardini and the lagoon as part of its future constituency?

  • Starting from the set-up of this call and from the general theme of the Architecture Biennale 2020, what kind of new collaborative models can this process foster considering the specificity of the project and the larger context of the Venice Biennale?

As part of the call participants are also asked to develop a concept for the installation of a temporary studio within the Pavilion, which will act as the primary working and gathering space during the Biennale. This will ultimately be the object of the exhibition organized in the rooms of the Pavilion, and it will stage the contribution of all actors involved in the open working site. Far from being a mere mise-en-scene, this performative component will be the focus of the experiment, whereas the installation is meant to serve as infrastructure and display for the different activities that will take place within the Pavilion.

What we expect is not a dramatic obliteration of the heritage of the Pavilion but rather an intelligent approach to operate critically on its historical layers. The idea is to strategically implement those changes on the building that will transform it into an inclusive space conceived to adapt to next-years uses, from the Art Biennale 2021 onwards. The temporary studio should perform simultaneously as a place of work, with proper workstations and everything that a temporary office might need, as an open archive that speaks of the Pavilion itself and of the making of a new exhibition space, and as a stage for gatherings, public events and performances. As a whole it should serve as an ensemble to facilitate the cross pollination of all agents involved in the process, and to share with the audience the work in progress in the form of an incremental exhibit and open conversation. During this process the winning team will collaborate with the curator and with a group of local experts, from young architects to technical consultants, that will participate in the different phases: from concept to realization. The project will enter officially on site in November 2020 and it will be completed during the spring of 2021


Each team should produce:

  • A report of no more than 1,500 words which clearly outlines proposals regarding the architectural project and the exhibition approach. This should include the ambitions of the team in relationship to the trajectories described in the call and the overall curatorial framework of the Architecture Biennale 2020, but also the methodology of collaboration with the extended team.

  • A maximum of three A3 (portrait or landscape) that shows the spatial approach on the Pavilion: plans, sections and visualizations of the interventions on the architecture of the Pavilion and a visual description of the patterns of occupation of the Pavilion during the Biennale as workspace and exhibition.

  • Additional but not mandatory materials might include: video, models or other forms of simulation.

  • Team composition and CV of the office and / or the CV of the singular members including background, expertise and areas of interest.

  • A portfolio of the works done by the office in the last five years or a collection of the works authored by the singular members of the team.

  • Indicative schedule and cost report.

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