The Chilean Pavilion for the Venice Biennale. The rigorous construction of a pleasant place
The most clarifying description about what architecture is supposed to do, was given by the Chilean architect Fernando Perez, in an essay entitled the Mirror and the Cloak (ANYbody, 1994). On one side, he says, an architectural work should be an object able to resist a careful looking, able to answer consistently if interrogated as an artistic object until eventually being able to reflect a moment in time, the state of a culture or the author him or herself. On the other hand, it should be a place, able to disappear in the corner of the eye, dissolving itself silently, allowing us to do smoothly what we normally do: work, rest, study, sleep, cook, eat, live.Like a window, from one side, it should be able to be seen and judged as an architectural element, as a word of an architectural language and it should be able to resist that inquiry; but from another side, it\’s final purpose should be to disappear and let the view and the air go through it, allowing us to focus on everything that is not the window itself.I would like to use this idea as the architectural program of the Chilean Pavilion for the Venice Biennale. A pavilion is an elementary architectural project capable of reducing the problems architecture is dealing with and is looking for, to a rather simple though potentially dense object. It contains in a reduced scale, all the problems an architect has and would like to treat. But if pavilions tend to be containers for exhibitions (a kind of small temporary museums), this one will not be a collection of more or less interesting projects, better or worst shown, but the construction of a pleasant place offered to the public. So, one could say that we are going to erase the conventional notion of pavilion as a \”support\” and replace it by the offering of a pleasant place rigorously built. The mirror will be to rigor as the cloak will be to pleasure.We will accept the diva status of Venice, its kind of \”quarantine beauty\”, and not touch it. Our pavilion will be a floating construction. This way we might eventually avoid the infinite sadness of the abandonment of Exhibition Architecture.