The Final Shift at The Pavilion of Turkey Comes To an End

Published on : Monday, January 7, 2019

The 16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia closed to the public on Sunday November 25. This year, the Pavilion of Turkey presented Vardiya / the Shift, curated by Kerem Piker with the associate curators Cansu Cürgen, Yelta Köm, Nizam Onur Sönmez, Yağız Söylev and Erdem Tüzün. Located at Sale d’Armi, Arsenale, the Pavilion of Turkey is coordinated by Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV), and co-sponsored by Schüco Turkey and VitrA.


Vardiya pushed the boundaries of what is expected from a biennial exhibition by transforming the pavilion into a site of creative collaboration and production. 122 international architecture students from 16 different countries visited the pavilion in weekly ‘shifts’ over the 25 weeks of the biennale. During their time in Venice, the students became active co-curators and co-creators of the space. Each cohort focused on a particular theme and produced mini exhibitions which, displayed in the pavilion, ranged in output from films, to installations, mock-ups, fanzines and 3D prints. These creations are documented through the course of the biennial and can be seen on Vardiya’s blog, Youtube channel and İKSV’s photo link.


Responding to the Biennale Architettura 2018 theme of Freespace, Vardiya literally created a democratized space for learning. In addition to hosting the students, the pavilion became an open space for creatives, academics, designers, architects and the public to converge and discuss topics on the architectural agenda such as the relationship between cities and children, artificial reality, and social and collective building production. A series of public events were staged in the pavilion, comprising roundtables, lectures, digital meetings and workshop led by professionals including Cynthia Davidson, Bernard Khoury, Han Tümertekin, François Roche and Vasıf Kortun.


Internationally renowned architects and thinkers participated in the Pavilion of Turkey’s programme of events


Interrogating the questions: ‘‘Why does the biennial exist?’’, ’What does the biennial do? and “For whom does the biennial exist?’’, Vardiya hosted five important figures from the architecture and design world, who delivered keynote lectures. Curator of the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial Jan Boelen, Turkish architect Emre Arolat, renowned Italian designer Tobia Scarpa and two architects, theorists and educators Juhani Pallasmaa and Peter Eisenman came together at the Pavilion of Turkey and shared their ideas and experiences on architecture and the biennial itself.


In keeping with the ethos of openness, the lectures were broadcast online via YouTube and, ensuring that the material was open-source and accessible for the international architecture community.



16 countries, 41 schools, 485,000 km road


Over 450 international architecture students from 29 countries applied to an international open call for architecture students. Following a three-step evaluation process, 122 students were invited to Venice for a one-week intensive research, learning and production process, with all costs and expenses covered by İKSV.


The students – who collectively travelled a total of 485,000 km from all over the world to Venice – were from countries such as Turkey, USA, China, Palestine, Venezuela, Costa Rica, and Germany.


Award for the Vardiya Book


Another permanent piece that was created within the project is a set of four books: Vardiya. The book’s visual identity and design is created by Okay Karadayılar and Ali Taptık (ONAGÖRE) and it received the Best Book Design Award from 37th Graphic Design Awards by Turkish Graphic Designers Association (GMK).


A set of four books have been published to accompany the project Vardiya, titled: Idea, Open Call, Conversations and Pavilion which features texts by the curatorial team, workshop coordinators, and other collaborators about the idea and the open call process, design of the pavilion, as well as interviews with the members of the Selection Committee. Edited by Cansu Cürgen, Kerem Piker and Nizam Onur Sönmez, the Vardiya book is available in a bilingual format – English and Turkish –and is distributed by Yapı Kredi Publications in selected bookstores.


The book and the exhibition’s visual identity are designed by Okay Karadayılar and Ali Taptık (ONAGÖRE). The exhibition design of Vardiya is by KPM (Kerem Piker Mimarlık, Architectural Studio), and video content is by Can Tanyeli (SARRAF GALEYAN MEKANİK).


Over 275.000 Visitors at La Biennale Di Venezia


Curated by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia took place during 26 May-25 November 2018 with the theme of Freespace and hosted exhibitions from 63 countries in Arsenale and Giardini including the Pavilion of Turkey besides the main exhibition that presented works of 71 artists.


According to the data published by La Biennale di Venezia, the exhibition has welcomed over 275 thousand visitors, marking a 6% increase on the 2016 edition. Half of the total visitors of the biennial were under 26 years of age.


Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, The Pavilion of Turkey


The Pavilion of Turkey’s exhibition is coordinated by İKSV (Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts) and realised through the co-sponsorship of Schüco Turkey and VitrA, with the lighting support of TEPTA Lighting, with the contribution of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey. The Pavilion of Turkey’s long term venue opened at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia in 2014 for the first time, upon a 20-year allotment of the Arsenale with İKSV’s initiation and the contribution of 21 supporters.


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