Public Without Rhetoric is the project selected to represent Portugal at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. The curators Nuno Brandão Costa and Sérgio Mah propose a tour of the “Public Building” of Portuguese origin through 12 works created at a time when Western Europe is confronted with its limits and possibilities and as architecture manifests its nonconformist nature in reinforcing its role in political and social intervention.
Coinciding with the economic crisis, the last ten years have seen a movement away from public construction projects, with the predominant neoliberalism of Western Europe viewing them as unnecessarily wasteful, misguided and even harmful. The construction of public infrastructure such as cultural, educational and sporting facilities is in line with the idea of civilizational evolution and progressive social equity.
It simultaneously rebuilds and rehabilitates the form of the city, and qualitatively and culturally renews public space. In the decade spanning the beginning of the crisis in 2007 to the present, despite the sharp decrease in this type of investment, a significant number of high-quality public works have been built, embodying the resilience of some central, regional, local and institutional niches of decision making. These include both entities that continued their commitment to projects from before the onset of the crisis and others that assumed responsibility for launching new countercyclical projects during the same period.
These centers of resistance were matched by Portuguese architects.
The discipline’s characteristic passion, charisma and voluntary spirit was enhanced and became associated with a very clear understanding of the social and political role of architecture, despite a highly adverse environment for its practice. This selection of 12 works constructed over the last 10 years offers a short history of the most recent ‘public buildings’ of Portuguese origin. Each of these buildings reflects the ideas behind ‘Freespace’, the central theme of the 16th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. This choice of works seeks to demonstrate the diversity of programmes and scales in which Portuguese architects work, emphasizing their generalist culture and cross-generational excellence, with the representation of architects born in every decade from the 1930s to the 1980s.
The exhibition will also include a series of films exploring the current state of the works, specifically in regards to the different methods and dynamics of appropriation employed by the people who inhabit the buildings and fulfill the public mission of these works to varying degrees. The films are produced by four contemporary Portuguese artists with consolidated and widely recognized bodies of work in the visual arts and cinema and with previous experience in the field of architectural representation.
See below the complete list of works selected for the Portuguese Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2018.
Pavilhões de parque, no Parque Urbano de Albarquel, Setúbal – Ricardo Bak Gordon
Temporary Exhibition Pavilions, “Incerteza Viva: An exhibition from the 32nd São Paulo Biennial”, Parque de Serralves, Porto – depA (Carlos Azevedo, João Crisóstomo and Luís Sobral), Diogo Aguiar Studio, FAHR 021.3 (Filipa Fróis Almeida and Hugo Reis), Fala Atelier (Ana Luísa Soares, Filipe Magalhães and Ahmed Belkhodja) and Ottotto (Teresa Otto)