Venice Takeaway at the Royal Institute of British Architecture
Upstairs in the grand marbled premises of RIBA, the Venice Takeaway exhibition feels as though it has been tacked on to cater for school and college visits. There is just so much reading and information to decipher that it is much less exhibition and more educational display. There are no models or installations, and it’s hard to know what’s necessary to read to grasp each project, and which of the earphones are playing things worth listening to (rather than interviews and traffic atmosphere).
However, if architecture is of particular interest, there are some fascinating experimental projects featured from around the world. The exhibition evidences work previously shown as the British contribution to the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale.
It’s a grand tour of an idea. Send ten British architecture teams around the world to investigate creative responses to problems we all share in our environment. They come back brimming with solutions and approaches to disseminate to other architects and integrate into their own practice. So a partnership emerges between Edinburgh and Lagos, studying the impact design can have on risk and regulation; London and Amsterdam explore the possibilities of floating communities; a Japan-based UK architect researches Japanese sites which aspire to be both ordinary and heroic. Architectural advances and innovations are born of such ideals.
Most of the exhibition is mounted on long desks, with screens, books and displays embedded in the structure, and so it is all handleable (though in places precarious).
There is a further display of student responses to the exhibition which this reviewer completely missed. The RIBA building is marble and magnificent, but has known issues with signs and directions. To add to the mild confusion, they are hosting this exhibition rather than having created it, a situation where simple arrows and notices can be overlooked. At the moment it is possible to walk past RIBA and be unsure whether it is open to the public at all, but plans are already under way for a new gallery space and a more obvious open door policy.
The projects and ideas are of the highest quality, but the display rather exemplifies how too much information can have the opposite effect of clear communication.
Venice Takeaway: Ideas to Change British Architecture is at The Royal Institute of British Architecture until 27th April 2013. For further information visit the exhibition’s website here.