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Venice Architecture Biennale 2014

24 June 2014

ECC is proud to support the New Zealand installation at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2014. Last, Loneliest, Loveliest is New Zealand’s first national exhibition at a Venice Architecture Exhibition — la Biennale di Venezia.

Last, Loneliest, Loveliest is taking place in Venice from 7 June – 23 November, 2014. The Creative Director is David Mitchell, a director of Mitchell & Stout Architects in Auckland, and New Zealand’s participation has been instigated by the New Zealand Institute of Architects.

In delivering participating counties a theme of Absorbing Modernity: 1914-2014, la Biennale director Rem Koolhaas suggests that over the last 100 years national characteristics in architecture have given way to an increasingly homogeneous global architecture.

Last, Loneliest, Loveliest proposes – via a century-long architectural journey that begins with the Auckland War Memorial Museum, a 1920s neo-Classical monument to New Zealand’s fallen soldiers, and ends with the pavilion-like extension to the Auckland Art Gallery (2011) and Shigeru Ban’s ‘Cardboard’ Cathedral (2013) in post-earthquake Christchurch – the survival and evolution of a Pacific architectural tradition within New Zealand.

“Anyone who travels notices that, more and more, things seem to be the same, and our country’s architecture shares in this general uniformity” says David Mitchell. However, Mitchell believes the story of modernity in New Zealand is more complicated than it appears. Despite the effects of globalisation, New Zealand’s architecture is more singular now than it was a century ago, and what sets it apart is its connection to the Pacific way of building.

“The Pacific has a great architectural tradition, although it is rarely honoured,” he says.

“That might be because it is not like European architecture, which is solid and massive and looks permanent. Pacific buildings are timber structures of posts and beams and infill panels and big roofs. It’s a lightweight architecture that’s comparatively transient.”

“In a time when influence is instant and everything seems familiar, I think we have become aware that if anything makes our architecture different, it is the evolution of the lightweight Pacific tradition. This is what we are showing in our exhibition, and we are also communicating our optimism about this architectural direction. Given the world’s concerns about climate change and the sustainable use of resources, and New Zealand’s own worries about its seismic circumstances, the Pacific architectural qualities of resilience, flexibility and repairability have a lot to offer.”



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