On the occasion of the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Veneziaand in response to its general theme 'Freespace', the teams of the Belgian, Dutch and Spanish pavilions launched a joint Open Call in January. The winning entry, Europa by CENTRAL office for architecture and urbanism, will be presented on May 26 during the official opening of 16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia.In less than one month the curatorial teams received 176 entries by participants from more than 50 countries and many professional backgrounds. The Belgian, Dutch and Spanish teams were impressed by the variety of the topics, the originality of the spatial interventions, and the forms of political engagement proposed to reconsider the role and protocols of an opening ceremony in the context of the Venice Giardini.

Winning entry
By CENTRAL office for architecture and urbanism (Pierre Burquel, Radim Louda, Paul Mouchet and Valentin Piret)
ESPAÑA, BELGIO and OLANDA – three pavilions with their own architectural identities and nation’s names displayed on their façades, a simplified but true tale of national pride. As a counterpoint to the current spirit of withdrawal into oneself, they  propose to change the country’s name on the pavilions’ façades by superimposing six letters; a common symbol celebrating openness, collaboration and courage that outshines nationalistic and bureaucratic powers, a geographical and humanist bond between the three countries and many others: EUROPA in bright and coloured neon lights.

With the subtle yet bold gesture of overriding the countries’ names from the façade of each pavilion with a common sign spelling "Europa", the winning proposal evokes the message of an imagined space of open borders, free circulation, equality, solidarity and diversity. It addresses Europe beyond the European Union, engaging in a form of representation that transcends the identity of the nation state and thus fulfills the Open Call’s ambition to question the methodological nationalism associated with the idea of an enclosed pavilion.

CENTRAL office for architecture and urbanism is a Brussels-based practice founded in 2015 by 4 associates from different European backgrounds. After a strong experience as project leaders in different offices in Belgium, Ljubljana and Paris, Pierre Burquel, Radim Louda, Paul Mouchet and Valentin Piret have established a common practice around the strong belief that architecture has to be shaped by the relations that it creates with its environment. A systemic approach that takes in account all the scales of a project with the same attention, one influencing each other.
Honorable mention
Question Project by Mil M2 (Constanza Carvajal, Diego Cortes, María Jose Jana, Cecilia Moya, Fernando Portal and Pedro Sepulveda)
The inter-disciplinary artist collective Mil M2, proposed to create dialogues through a performance-based intervention that has allowed for the generation and dissemination of citizen’s concerns in public spaces and cultural institutions. "Question Project" is a tool aimed to foster critical thinking through empathy, and to enable site-specific exchange between strangers. Over the last four years the project has been developed in more that 90 public spaces and cultural institutions in Europe and South America. The ‘Question Project’ fosters dialogue through an interactive installation that provides a space for discussing common concerns on pressing spatial and political issues. It engages the audience and allows for the visitors’ voices to be amplified and anonymously staged in a platform that fosters questioning, delation, vulnerability and sharing.

Honorable mention
By Rocco Vitali and Oliviero Vitali
Three pavilions, three countries, three flags: one hundred chairs.” Converting the colors of the flags from the three countries into a hundred chairs, RGB conceives a collective gathering as an ever-changing spatial intervention in the Giardini. By dissolving flags and blurring the boundaries between national demarcations over time, the project mobilizes a visual metaphor that aims to open up new spaces for exchange and dialogue.



Curators :

An initiative of the Architecture Unit of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation in collaboration with Wallonia-Brussels International.

16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia
Belgian pavilion 2018

Europe exists, it is in Brussels! Despite being the EU’s principal territorial, physical and symbolic anchorage, the European Quarter in Brussels barely contributes to a collective European identity. By accepting the role of hostess to the common enterprise of Europe, Brussels de facto accepts responsibility for its territorial anchorage. The EU Quarter is above all the spatial expression of the European political system. However, for morphological, security and financial reasons, it is also impervious to citizen initiatives. The Belgian Pavilion therefore addresses the deficiency of democratic and citizen spaces in the EU Quarter. By offering a public agora, it hopes to arouse political commitment in European citizens and extend an invitation to pursue the construction of Europe as a political ideal, as well as its anchorage in Brussels. Based on spatial hints and urban or architectural traces, its guidebook, Voyage en Eurotopie, offers a glimpse of what Europe and Brussels may be and how space-makers may learn from the supranational city

Credit image: EUROPA - CENTRAL office for architecture and urbanism, 2018