This year's Nordic Pavilion at Venice Biennale went far beyond the classic protocol. Its interior, which was conceived as an extension of Giardini’s verdant public space, is a step-pyramid that reaches for the ceiling. Called “In Therapy” and curated by David Basulto, Archdaily’s founder and editor in chief, this informal wooden amphitheater is designed to create the perfect environment in which to have the ever so critical debate about how architecture can progress without disrupting the legacy of the past.
To reflect on this question, Finns, Norwegians and Swedes could not find a better place than their own pavilion. Originally designed by the Pritzker laureate Sverre Fehn in 1962, this aesthetically charged building epitomizes all those Scandinavian modern masters who still exert great (if not irrepressible) influence on contemporary practice in the three countries and beyond.
In Therapy creates an environment where it’s possible to take candid stock of the future of Nordic architecture, such that it doesn’t feel like an exhibition. It doesn’t even try to win the visitor’s attention. Instead of being a stand-and-look show, the timber staircase is an inhabitable structure designed to convene people and convert their thoughts into voices.
The exhibition is also an urban artefact created not only to share ideas but also to allow participants or visitors to self-analyze. It acts as a vessel that presents responses to an open call in which architectural practitioners from all over the world were invited to submit their projects that were recently realized in Nordic nations. Each suggested how their project has (or has not) contributed to either Finnish, Norwegian or Swedish society.
With its wide-open glass doors welcoming visitors from all reaches of the planet, and thoughtful questions about immigration and social integration, this exhibition stretches beyond the national borders of Nordic nations that collaborated on this thoughtful project.