Monday, November 24, 2008

Architecture La Biennale Wrap-Up: Record Number of Visitors!

The La Biennale press office sent over this release (which I edited very slightly for American ears). To me, the most exciting news is the huge increase in attendance by students, and that Aaron Betsky has introduced young minds to new ideas. And, of course, special thanks must go to Paolo Baratta, the President of La Biennale, for making it all happen. If you remember, back during the film festival I said it was too early to judge Paolo Baratta. Well, after seeing what he has done with the other sectors, I will state very strongly that I think he is brilliant and gutsy, and I am happy he exists. Whether you agree with what La Biennale is doing or not, at least there is finally a breath of air in here, and discussions.

(Venice, Italy) November 24, 2008 – The 11th International Architecture Exhibition, Out There: Architecture Beyond Building, directed by Aaron Betsky, organised by La Biennale di Venezia, and presided over by Paolo Baratta, closed yesterday, Sunday, November 23, with a record number of visitors.

A total of 129,323 visitors came to the Exhibition, divided between the venues of the Giardini and the Arsenale. During the ten weeks that it has been open, the 11th Exhibition has consistently been ranked at the top of the most visited Italian exhibitions in 2008. With a daily average of 1,827 visitors and record numbers of 8,840 people during the weekends, the total is higher than the last edition in 2006 (127,298).

The total number of students that visited the exhibition, either in groups or individually, was 61,436.

Officially inaugurated on September 13th by Sen. Sandro Bondi, the Minister for Cultural Affairs, the 11th Exhibition was also visited by Giorgio Napolitano, the President of the Italian Republic.

The discussion and criticisms about the original theme of the exhibition – “architecture beyond building” – and the unusual layout of the show by Aaron Betsky, stimulated a wide-ranging debate and high attendance for an architecture exhibition, especially in the current economic situation, which has seen a drop in tourist numbers.

The importance attained by the Architecture Biennale, which has enjoyed unmatched media coverage, and which was covered by all the Italian TV news channels on the day of its opening, has been confirmed by leading international publications:

· “The 11th Architecture Biennale of Venice, the most important event in the sector” (Grégoire Allix, Le Monde, 16.09.2008).
· “The Venice Biennale, the world’s most important architecture festival” (Edwin Heathcote, Financial Times, 16.09.2008).
· “The Venice Architecture Biennale remains the most anticipated and ambitious design show in the world” (Christopher Hawthorne, Los Angeles Times, 17.09.2008).
· “Enormous numbers of visitors, journalists arriving in crowds and an impressive press coverage: the 11th Architecture Biennale of Venice no longer has any reason to envy its big sister, the Biennale d’Arte” (Lorette Coen, Le Temps, 20.09.2008).
· “A fundamental appointment to learn of the latest trends” (Gerhard Matzig, Suddeutsche Zeitung, 11.11.2008).

The exhibition saw the presence of 2,360 journalists during the 71 days it was open to the public(1,294 non-Italian and 1,066 Italian; in 2006, a total of 1962 journalists visited). There were 85 television channels accredited during the entire exhibition (59 non-Italian and 26 Italian) and 183 television reporters visited the exhibition (105 non-Italian and 78 Italian). Press coverage has been ample and so far totals 920 articles, compared to 793 in the past edition of 2006.

The four-day vernissage, held from September 10th through 14th, was attended by 25,000 international guests (trade operators, curators, exhibitors, national representatives and the press), an increase of 19% from 2006. The number of journalists present at this year's vernissage was 1,570: 709 Italian and 861 non-Italian, up from 1,319 in 2006.

Another figure that has changed substantially for the Architecture sector concerns the number of national participations and collateral events: 56 national participations, one Special Event by the Milan City Authorities and 24 Collateral Events, double that of preceding editions.

The educational activities have also concluded successfully, with 16,794 visitors making use of them, an increase of 18% from 2006 (14,236). A particularly noteworthy figure is the 45% increase in the participation in educational initiatives by university students, and a 25% increase on the part of second-degree secondary schools. There have been 254 workshop activities (+49% from 2006) involving 5,037 enthusiasts, from the very young to adults. Of the 840 groups who have made use of these educational activities, 686 come from the world of research and teaching. These figures demonstrate that the Architecture Biennale has been chosen as a venue for learning and discovering the latest trends at all stages of the educational process, from primary school to university.

The 11th Exhibition has paid particular attention to the young public, becoming a creative workshop open to research. Its experimental character has been confirmed by the numerous inscriptions to the on-line Everyville 2008 competition entitled, Communities beyond Place, Civic consciousness beyond Architecture, aimed at university students from around the world: 245 groups for a total of 782 students from 48 countries took part in the competition. The works of the leading 10 and of the 40 honorable mentions were exhibited at the Artiglierie dell’Arsenale while the rest of the projects to have been received can be seen on the website:

Two publications, both by Marsilio, have accompanied visitors on their exploration of the Exhibition, Out There: Architecture Beyond Building: a catalogue divided into five volumes contained within a PVC case, and a DVD entitled The Making of the Biennale by Aaron Betsky.

The 11th Exhibition was held with the support of ACI-Automobile Club d'Italia, Domus, Fantoni, Foscarini, Nivea, Autodesk, Casamania, Matteograssi, Bisazza, Enel, Ferrovie dello Stato, Flex, Link, Mediacontech and Micromegas. And, for Everyville 2008, with the support of Telecom Italia, MACE and Newitalianblood. We wish to thank Actv for the shuttle services.

1 comment:

  1. As you know, some twenty years ago, The Italian Government had passed a law to limit the number of tourists to Venice to protect Venice.
    If there are excess number of visitors to the Architecture Biennale, we welcome them to THE SECOND VENICE (by Askin Ozcan -ISBN 1598000888 - Outskirts Press)