Invited to participate in the International Exhibition of the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale, Anupama Kundoo and students from the University of Queensland will reconstruct a section of her Wall House.
In architectural exhibitions the object is almost always elsewhere. This raises the recurrent question, how do we exhibit architecture? There are many answers – models & finely crafted drawings, sketches and process drawings, video, film and interviews and – more recently – actions and activity. When David Chipperfield invited Anupama Kundoo to exhibit as part of the prestigious International Exhibition at this year’s Venice Biennale, she proposed a different approach – her installation is a full-scale rebuild of a section of her Wall House, in Auroville, South India. The result will be the largest installation in the Arsenale, and is being built by a cross-cultural team that includes architecture students from the University of Queensland, craftspeople from India and builders from Italy.
Wall House was originally an experimental project that tested technological and spatial innovations – particularly in terms of how local craft traditions such as terracotta could be reinterpreted in new architectural contexts. As such it worked to combine low-tech, hand-made materials with advanced architectural and engineering concepts in a sustainable and culturally relevant manner.
The installation at Venice seeks to further develop these technological and spatial investigations within a new context and, simultaneously, to offer Biennale goers an experience akin to that of the Wall House. It also seeks to critique of the conventions of the architectural exhibition by privileging the sensory, the material and the experiential. The project responds to Chipperfield’s theme for the Biennale – Common Ground – in multiple ways. It seeks to establish common ground between different cultures, between different building practices and technologies, between Europe and the developing world, and between students and their teachers. The Biennale also presented a specific opportunity for Kundoo to extend her experimental work in India into her teaching at the University of Queensland, where she has recently become a senior lecturer – via Venice.
Finding common ground between imported techniques and local traditions seeks to enhance the capacity of the developing world to grow sustainably and equitably while nurturing livelihoods and tradition”, says Kundoo. She is currently in Venice with a small team of University of Queensland students and her collaborator Michael Dickson working on the installation. They are giving regular progress reports from Venice through the project’s Facebook site and Twitter.
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