‚Salve‘ says a Swedish architect to a Spanish colleague as they meet on a vaporetto near the Rialto Bridge. One lives in Beijing, the other in Barcelona. They know each other from their studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge and have come to Venice for the opening of the Architecture Biennale. The gathering of the international architectural scene at the end of August imparts La Serenissima with a special buzz. A day may start with a joint morning cappuccino on the Campo Margherita, continue pleasantly with meeting colleagues on the grounds of the Giardini during the day, and finish with a refreshing ‚Spritz‘ enjoyed on the hotel terrace with a view of the Canal Grande on a warm summer evening. For a short period of time French, Scandinavian, Japanese and American lovers of architecture populate the city in the lagoon as if they were at home there. It‘s a short break from office life, spent exhibiting current projects and installations in the glorious Venetian setting, exchanging experiences and opinions, and discussing the future of architecture in general. Old friendships live up again and some new contacts are made: an altogether inspiring time for discovering new perspectives for future projects. Language barriers and cultural boundaries are crossed with ease – a simple ‚Buon giorno‘ always works when in doubt. What only takes place in blogs or tweets, by e-mail or skype outside the Biennale months, becomes reality on the picturesque stage left to us by Palladio and Sansovino. National borders have long been overcome by the multi-faceted communication network of the architectural scene, both in virtual and real space. The Biennale in Venice demonstrates at regular intervals that the exchange also functions without digital aids. The tête-à-tête every two years is an opportunity to make surprising observations and take away lasting impressions. Young talents suddenly appear consumed, other formerly unknown artists in the architectural business gain international fame overnight, and normally unapproachable stars of the international architectural scene are often surprisingly open for impromptu discussions with colleagues.
Text: Sandra Hofmeister