The Danish Pavilion: A cyclic water system that connects visitors, senses and surroundings
Giardini Biennale – Venice, Italy
May 22 – November 21, 2021
Con-nect-ed-ness: The Danish Pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia focuses on people’s connection with each other and with nature, in a total installation consisting of a giant cyclic system of water collected locally in Venice.
Visitors to the Danish Pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia in Venice can experience a single, complete work that explores the concept of connectedness. With reference to the main theme of the Biennale Architettura 2021, “How will we live together?”, the Danish contribution reminds us of how architecture as an art form can render the invisible visible and evoke an indelible sense of connection between people and the Earth’s elements.
Working together, the exhibition architects, Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects, and curator Marianne Krogh, have created a total installation that completely transforms the Danish Pavilion and immerses it in nature’s cyclic system – with water as the core element. The site-specific exhibition caters to all the senses.
“We believe that, through our senses, we can begin to understand ourselves in a larger context. This is the first step toward taking responsibility, both in our approach to the planet and to each other,” says Marianne Krogh.
As part of the artistic and architectural approach, the existing architecture of the two pavilions is an integrated part of the exhibition. The pipes running throughout the building and the water collection tanks outside are visible. In the pavilion’s large hall, floor-to-ceiling textiles add a contrast and tactility to the simple raw structures, while a recycled floor from a former gymnasium has been transformed into a giant floating platform. While exploring the various spaces of the exhibition, visitors can become part of the cyclic system by drinking a cup of tea brewed with leaves from the lemon verbena trees planted in the pavilion – trees which also absorb water from the extensive cyclic system.
The exhibition asks the question: How can we (re)create a new, meaningful relationship with the world as a place where we recognize the fundamental condition that we are connected – not just with each other, but with all living beings? The dependence between humans and Earth as the basis for a sustainable future for all is illustrated by linking the pavilion’s installation directly to the planet’s own cyclic system.
The exhibition experience arises in the encounter between the visitor, the building and the surroundings, where the power of water’s cyclic system continuously shapes the sensory experience. Water in the pavilion is collected on site, and climatic fluctuations will continuously shape the look and feel of the exhibition – for example, parts of the pavilion will be flooded to illustrate that water is at once life-giving, poetic, powerful and uncontrollable. The work comprises connected rooms where the water flows in, becomes part of the exhibition and sensory experience, and then leaves the pavilion again, through bodies, evaporation, photosynthesis, and absorption into the ground.
“As architects, we try to provide answers to how people can live together. We work on the precondition that architecture always stands in relation to nature. In the pavilion, we have sought to make a cyclic system visible, which helps us begin to understand ourselves as part of something bigger. In the best-case scenario, the exhibition can help to make clear that we are all connected and live in reciprocity,” explains Lene Tranberg, co-founding partner and architect at Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects.
The exhibition at the Danish Pavilion is accompanied by the English-language anthology, Connectedness – an Incomplete Encyclopedia of the Anthropocene, edited by Marianne Krogh and published by Strandberg Publishing. The anthology was released on August 29, 2020, and can be purchased from select physical and online vendors, including Amazon.