British architecture's Olympic spirit in Venice

Instead of one starchitect representing Britain, 10 relative newcomers put forward ideas for the future
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Waiting for the sonic boom at CLUI’s Desert Research Station - Smout Allen
Waiting for the sonic boom at CLUI’s Desert Research Station - Smout Allen

The touching moment when seven unknown fledgling athletes were given the honour of lighting the Olympic cauldron is being carried through to Britain's entry for this month's 13th Venice International Architecture Biennale.

Instead of promoting a starchitect's lifetime achievement at the opening next week, Venice Takeaway: Ideas to Change British Architecture will bring 10 young architecture teams together to share the outcomes of research projects that have taken them to places as varied as Argentina, Brazil, Japan, and the USA. The aim is to nurture architects' practices rather than to produce measurable results. The exhibition takes its motto from an Albert Einstein quote: "if we knew what we were doing, it would not be research, would it?" 

Ross Anderson and Anna Gibb, Darryl Chen, dRMM, Forum for Alternative Belfast, aberrant architecture, Public Works, Urban Projects Bureau, Elias Redstone, Liam Ross and Tolulope Onabolu, Owen Pritchard, Smout Allen and BLDGBLOG, and Takero Shimazaki / Toh Shimazaki Architecture all answered the British Council's invitation for a pavilion with an idea and a mode of investigation rather than a  more straightforward building or grand concept.

Redstone travelled to Argentina to study how local practitioners were developing their work in the aftermath of an economic crisis; Smout Allen and BLDGBLOG spent time with the LA-based Center for Land Use Interpretation, while Darryl Chen went to China to see if Beijing's alternative community Caochangdi could be a viable model of urban planning for the UK.

The 10 teams' discoveries will be displayed in a "Research Emporium," and their proposals for change will be shown in a "Takeaway" section. Venice Takeaway: Ideas to Change British Architecture is at the British Pavilion, 13th Venice International Architecture Biennale, August 29 to November 25, 2012. If you can't make it to Venice you'll find as much cutting edge architectural philosophy, ideas and insight, and simply amazing looking buildings here.


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