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Evolving ensembles instead of stand-alone star architecture

Architect and ETH Professor Miroslav Šik is representing Switzerland at this year’s architecture biennale in Venice. His exhibition entitled «And Now the Ensemble!» represents an appeal to fellow architects, builders and authorities to plan any new construction as an integral part of its environment. Pro Helvetia, responsible for Switzerland’s presence at art and architecture biennials since 2012, is supplementing Šik’s exhibition with a comprehensive supporting programme.

Miroslav Šik, a professor at the renowned Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) and nominated as Switzerland’s representative at the 13th International Architecture Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia, is a maverick advocate of an architectural style that does not need to be spectacular. He rejects event and star architecture that stands out in solitary splendour, preferring a form of building in which each new construction is in dialogue with its pre-existing environment. His exhibition called «And Now the Ensemble!» will be launched at the Swiss Pavilion in Venice with a festive opening ceremony on 27 August 2012. The display represents a plea to architects, builders and authorities to take continuity and context into account, to blend old and new to lively, possibly unfamiliar ensembles, with each element influencing the atmosphere of the whole, all the while keeping the prime focus on the people who are or will be living and working in the area concerned.

An exemplary ensemble in large format

In the main room of the Swiss Pavilion, Šik is presenting a visual manifesto in the form of a panoramic picture spanning all four walls, projected with the use of photographic emulsion technology. Šik has invited the architecture firms Knapkiewicz and Fickert from Zurich and Miller and Maranta from Basel to cooperate with him on the project. Together they have each joined buildings and drafts of their own to a collage expressing a mutual and programmatic understanding of architecture.

From 2012, Pro Helvetia is supplementing the pavilion exhibitions with a comprehensive programme by the name of «Salon Suisse». Taking up the tradition of art and literary salons in past centuries, it will foster encounters and debates involving both specialists and members of the public in Venice’s Palazzo Trevisan, also known as Spazio Culturale Svizzero. Šik will thus be given the opportunity to discuss his theories with experts and other interested parties.

Born in former Czechoslovakia, Šik is an internationally leading architecture theorist. In 2011, he was chosen by an independent jury to create Switzerland’s contribution to the Venice architecture biennale. Switzerland’s Arts and Culture Promotion Act, which came into force in 2012, has transferred responsibility for the art and architecture biennials of Venice and the art biennale of Cairo from the Federal Office of Culture to the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.

Information on Switzerland’s exhibitions and projects at the biennials of Venice and Cairo can be accessed at the new website www.biennials.ch. From 2012, Pro Helvetia is also issuing an open-end series of accompanying publications to Swiss activities at the biennials, to be published by Lars Müller Publishers.

Media Relations: Sabina Schwarzenbach, Head of Communication

Tel. +41 44 267 71 39, Fax +41 44 267 71 06, sschwarzenbach@prohelvetia.ch 

Media Release of the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, 10/05/2012