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Grafton Architects Announce “Freespace” As Theme for 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale

Architects Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of Grafton Architects have announced the theme for 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale in a conference at the Biennale headquarters in Venice, Italy. They have given it the title “Freespace”, and it will celebrate generosity, thoughtfulness, and meaningful contact between people and space. It will present studies, proposals, and works that demonstrate the “essential qualities of architecture”. These qualities include modulation, richness, and materiality of the surface, as well as sequencing of movement which, according to the curators reveal the beauty of architecture.

“Freespace describes a generosity of spirit and a sense of humanity at the core of architecture’s agenda, focusing on the quality of space itself … Freespace focuses on architecture’s ability to provide free and additional spatial gifts to those who use it and on its ability to address the unspoken wishes of strangers … Freespace provides the opportunity to emphasize nature’s free gifts of light – sunlight and moonlight, air, gravity, materials – natural and man-made resources … Freespace encourages reviewing ways of thinking, new ways of seeing the world, of inventing solutions where architecture provides for the well-being and dignity of each citizen of this fragile planet … Freespace can be a space for opportunity, a democratic space, un-programmed and free for users not yet conceived … Freespace encompasses freedom to imagine, the free space of time and memory, binding past, present, and future together, building on inherited cultural layers, weaving the archaic with the contemporary.” _ Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara

The architects also revealed that the biennale will engage the emotions and intellects of its visitors to better understand architecture and to celebrate its contribution to humanity. “We are interested in going beyond the visual, emphasizing the role of architecture in the choreography of daily life,” said Farrell and McNamara. “We see the earth as Client. This brings with it long-lasting responsibilities.”

President of Venice Biennale Paolo Baratta stated that “Freespace” is an extension for the investigation of the relationship between architecture and society, conducted by the past editions of the Biennale Architettura. He, also, pointed to the gap that has arisen between both sides and caused dramatic changes in urban development, like lack of public space and growth of unplanned settlements. “To rediscover architecture means to renew a strong desire for the quality of the spaces where we live, which are a form of public wealth that needs to be constantly protected, renovated and created, explained Baratta. “This is the path taken by the next Biennale Architettura.”

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