Architecture, Not Architects

written by Dietmar Steiner


As if according to some secret plan, the Venice Biennales of Architecture have consistently fit into the history of architecture of the past 35 years. Just as ciam at some point, or Team X later on, they have followed and encouraged development of architectural discourse. Since 1980, the Venetian forum has come to dominate the debate about architecture.


A short outline is required to understand and to properly classify this year’s Biennale. After the epochal 1980 Biennale, curated by Paolo Portoghesi and titled The Presence of the Past, which marked the culmination of the proclamation of postmodernity, it was Hans Hollein who, at the 1996 Biennale exhibition titled Sensing the Future—The Architect as Seismograph, established the individual star architect as a researcher of architecture of the future. Curating the 2000 exhibition titled Less Aesthetics, More Ethics, Fuksas almost wanted to apologize for the media attraction which spectacular architecture attracted in the meantime. In 2002, Deyan Sudjic was entirely journalistically affirmative searching for individual architectural spectacles in the exhibition that was titled the Next. His search was continued by Kurt Foster with the metamorph in 2004. In the 2000s, the Biennale became a catwalk for the global boom of architectural stars. The first discontinuation of such presentation came in 2006 when Richard Burdett directed a critical study research titled Cities, Architecture and Society.