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Alain Berset opens the Swiss Pavilion in Venice

Federal Councillor Alain Berset opened the Swiss Pavilion at the 13th International Architecture Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia today. He paid credit to Miroslav Šik, who designed the Swiss Pavilion, calling him one of Switzerland’s most radical and influential theorists of architecture. In a supporting programme under the name of «Salon Suisse», Pro Helvetia is launching a series of events designed to add an international touch to Switzerland’s contribution to the Biennale and to provide a broad-based platform for knowledge exchange.

Miroslav Šik, a professor at ETH Zurich, has influenced a whole generation of architects who today play a leading role in the Swiss architecture scene. He has thus made a vital contribution to the excellent reputation enjoyed by Swiss architects worldwide. This was emphasised by Federal Councillor Alain Berset this afternoon as he opened the Swiss Pavilion – located in the city’s Giardini – at the 13th International Architecture Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia. Šik, born in what was then Czechoslovakia, stands for an architectural approach that is subtly oriented towards the existing environment, its atmosphere and its construction tradition. He has little time for star architecture that stands out in solitary splendour. His preference, especially in urban settings, is for each new entity to be planned as part of a building ensemble.

«And Now the Ensemble!!!»: exhibition at the Swiss Pavilion

Given the title «And Now the Ensemble!!!», it is hardly surprising that Šik chose not to design the exhibition on his own. Two architecture firms, Kaschka Knapkiewicz & Axel Fickert from Zurich and Quintus Miller & Paola Maranta from Basel, were invited to collaborate on the Swiss Pavilion project. Using photographic emulsion technology, the architects jointly created a giant fresco expressing their vision of an ideal city, which now spans the four walls of the main Pavilion hall. A forthcoming publication by Lars Müller Publishers, also to be called «And Now the Ensemble!!!», will provide an in-depth view of Šik’s work and influence, with contributions by Adam Caruso, Hans Kollhoff, Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani, Quintus Miller and Miroslav Šik himself. The book represents an appeal to architects, builders and authorities to view and plan urban construction as an ongoing, collective work of art.

«Common Ground»: Swiss architects involved in the main exhibition

With his programmatic call «And Now the Ensemble!!!», Miroslav Šik has captured something of the spirit of our times. British architect David Chipperfield, curator of the Biennale’s main exhibition called «Common Ground», pursues a similar approach, urging fellow architects to cooperate on a larger scale. Numerous renowned Swiss architects and architecture firms are represented at the exhibition, including Diener & Diener (Basel), Annette Gigon & Mike Guyer (Zurich), Herzog & de Meuron (Basel), HHF architekten (Basel), Knapkiewicz & Fickert (Zurich), Peter Märkli (Zurich), Valerio Olgiati (Flims), Luigi Snozzi (Locarno), Günther Vogt (Zurich) and Peter Zumthor (Haldenstein). Also on display are works by Peter Fischli and David Weiss (Zurich) as well as Susanna and Antonella Perin (Aarau and Rome).

«Salon Suisse»: platform for lively international exchange

Switzerland’s second main contribution to the Architecture Biennale besides the Miroslav Šik exhibition is «Salon Suisse» at the centrally-located Palazzo Trevisan degli Ulivi. It is one of the Biennale’s official Collateral Events and comprises a wide-ranging programme running up to the end of November. «Salon Suisse» aims to be a platform for stimulating knowledge exchange – not least for young architects. It is directed by British curator Robert Guy Wilson and designed to attract a broadly-based international audience. Partner of «Salon Suisse» is Laufen Bathrooms AG. The kick-off event will be held on 28 August in the form of a panel discussion organised by ETH Zurich, titled «Common Images: Architecture and the Iconic Turn». The topic is a re-evaluation of Miroslav Šik as the protagonist of «Analogous Architecture».

The organisation of Switzerland’s two main contributions to the Biennale – the exhibition at the Swiss Pavilion and «Salon Suisse» at Palazzo Trevisan – is, for the first time, in the hands of the Pro Helvetia. In accordance with the new Culture Promotion Act of 2012, the Swiss Arts Council is now responsible for the Confederation’s entire cultural engagement abroad.

Further information on Switzerland’s exhibitions and projects at the Biennale di Venezia, as well as the latest pictures, can be accessed at can be accessed at the website www.biennials.ch 

Media Relations: Isabel Drews, Communication

Tel. +41 44 267 71 51, fax +41 44 267 71 06, idrews@prohelvetia.ch

Media Release of the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, 27/08/2012