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On the occasion of the 16th Biennale Architettura 2018 and in response to its general theme 'Freespace', the Belgian, Dutch and Spanish pavilions teams launched a joint Open Call in January. The winning entry, 'Europa' by CENTRAL office for architecture and urbanism, will be presented on May 26 during the official opening of the 16th Biennale Architettura 2018.

In less than a month the curatorial teams received 176 entries by participants from more than 50 countries and many professional backgrounds. The Belgian, Dutch and Spanish teams were impressed by the variety of the topics, the originality of the spatial interventions, and the forms of political engagement proposed to reconsider the role and protocols of the opening ceremony in the setting of the Venice Giardini.

Winning entry: 'Europa'

CENTRAL office for architecture and urbanism (Pierre Burquel, Radim Louda, Paul Mouchet and Valentin Piret)

ESPAÑA, BELGIO and OLANDA – three pavilions with their own architectural identities and their country's names displayed on their façades, a simplified but true tale of national pride. As a counterpoint to the current spirit of withdrawal into oneself, they propose to change the country’s names on the pavilions’ façades by overwriting them with six simple letters; 'Europa' in bright, coloured neon lights. These six letters represent a common symbol celebrating openness, collaboration and courage that outshines nationalistic and bureaucratic powers, a geographical and humanist bond between the three countries and many others.
With this subtle, yet bold gesture, the winning proposal evokes the sentiment of an imagined space of open borders, free circulation, equality, solidarity and diversity. It addresses Europe beyond the European Union, engaging in a form of representation that transcends the identity of the nation state and thus fulfills the Open Call’s ambition to question the methodological nationalism associated with the idea of an enclosed pavilion.
CENTRAL office for architecture and urbanism is a Brussels-based practice founded in 2015 by four associates from different European backgrounds. After extensive experience as project leaders in different offices in Belgium, Ljubljana and Paris, Pierre Burquel, Radim Louda, Paul Mouchet and Valentin Piret established a joint practice based around the strong belief that architecture has to be shaped by the relationship it creates with its environment. It needs to consist of a systemic approach that takes all the elements of a project into account with the same degree of attention, all influencing each other.

Honourable mention: 'Question Project'

Mil M2 (Constanza Carvajal, Diego Cortes, María Jose Jana, Cecilia Moya, Fernando Portal and Pedro Sepulveda)

The inter-disciplinary artist collective Mil M2, proposed the 'Question Project', a tool aimed at fostering critical thinking through empathy and enabling site-specific exchange between strangers. Over the last four years, the project has been developed in more than 90 public spaces and cultural institutions in Europe and South America. The 'Question Project' fosters dialogue through an interactive installation that provides a space for discussing common concerns on pressing spatial and political issues. It engages the audience and allows for the visitors’ voices to be heard and anonymously staged in a platform that fosters questioning, vulnerability and sharing. 

Honourable mention: 'RGB'

Rocco Vitali and Oliviero Vitali

Three pavilions, three countries, three flagsone hundred chairs.” Converting the colors of the flags from the three countries into a hundred chairs, 'RGB' by Rocco Vitali and Oliviero Vitali, conceives of a collective gathering as an ever-changing spatial intervention in the Giardini. By dissolving flags and blurring the boundaries between national demarcations over time, the project uses a visual metaphor that aims to open up new spaces for exchange and dialogue.

Marina Otero Verzier
Katía Truijen
Amal Alhaag, Beatriz Colomina, Marten Kuijpers, Victor Muñoz Sanz, Simone C. Niquille, Mark Wigley
Jane Chew and Matthew Stewart, Northscapes Collective (Hamed Khosravi, Taneha K. Bacchin and Filippo laFleur), Noam Toran, Giuditta Vendrame, Paolo Pattelli, Liam Young.
Raphael Coutin, Marina Otero Verzier
Hans Gremmen
Christiane Bosman, Eveline Mulckhuyse
Simone C. Niquille
Nick Axel
Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science Creative Industries Fund NL Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands in Rome, Italy

With the title WORK, BODY, LEISURE the 2018 Dutch Pavilion addresses the spatial configurations, living conditions, and notions of the human body engendered by disruptive changes in labor ethos and conditions.