Whether common ground is defined as a foundation for mutual understanding, interest, agreement, relationship or discussion, it can easily be defined by famed British architect David Chipperfield as this year’s theme for the Venice Architecture Biennale. The Biennale just opened for previews and the theme is already getting major coverage by architecture magazines and blogs everywhere. Though the theme might be understood as an opportunity to display the multitudes of work being done for the “common good” in political, economic, and sustainable realms, Chipperfield also intends to study the relationship of the ground between buildings.
Chipperfield explains in his introduction of this year’s Architecture Biennale that he wanted to encourage the social engagement of recent architectural work:
Common Ground provokes us to admit the inspirations and influences that I believe should define our profession… This Biennale, coming at a time of global economic anxiety, offers us a chance to put into perspective the undeniable individual architectural achievements that have given identity to the recent years, and to provoke a more focused consideration of our shared concerns and expectations… The theme of la Biennale was a provocation to my colleagues to demonstrate their commitment to these shared and common values, encouraging them away from a monographic presentation of their work, and towards a portrait of the collaborations and affinities behind it. That they have all engaged in this with such commitment and energy is a testament to them and confirmation of what we know but don’t articulate sufficiently: that despite our different concerns, backgrounds and points of view we do indeed share common ground, and this forms the basis of something we might describe as an architectural culture.
The main exhibits at the Arsenale (the main building at the Biennale) present a prevailing expression of the social and psychological morality, which define the common ground found in the recent architectural movements. The pavilions in the Giardini (a park where nations exhibit in pavilions) continue the dialogue of the current relationship between design and society with wonderful demonstrations of culture and environment. As wonderful as it may seem, in a statement published by Architectural Record on their “first impressions”, they believe that it is “the starchitects who generally fall short, presenting what often feels like little more than advertisements for their latest projects”.
The 13th edition of the Venice Architecture Biennale will run from August 29 through November 25, 2012. This is one of the most prestigious architecture events in the world and it will be attended by hundreds of thousands of visitors and famed architects.