Architecture on the front line

Biennale Architettura 2016, Venice / Italy

Zumtobel partners a number of contributions at the Biennale Architettura 2016.

Alejandro Aravena, winner of the Zumtobel Group Award 2014 in the "Urban Developments & Initiatives" category, is curator for the 15th Biennale Architettura in Venice 2016. © Biennale Venezia

"Architects should not feel obliged to get involved in social projects," declared Alejandro Aravena in his role as curator at the press conference for the 15th Biennale Architettura in Venice. Aravena prefers to see the major global issues as an opportunity to challenge our thinking and to test our abilities. In his opinion, the complex problems of our time need solutions characterised by professional quality - rather than quick fixes that are more akin to professional charity. This approach is not only the driving force behind various projects from the Chilean architect and his Elemental firm, but also the key to understanding the main theme of the 2016 Biennale, "REPORTING FROM THE FRONT".

The title "REPORTING FROM THE FRONT" is about making the work of architects and designers, who are currently providing answers to some of the toughest questions of our generation, accessible to a wider audience. © Biennale Venezia

Architecture can have a transformative power

The title "REPORTING FROM THE FRONT" is about making the work of architects and designers, who are currently providing answers to some of the toughest questions of our generation, accessible to a wider audience. These include issues such as inequality, migration, housing, pollution, natural disasters, sanitation, water supply and crime. Certain architects and designers are now proving that architecture can have a transformative power, so long as everyone is willing to tirelessly challenge established conventions and to open doors that were long assumed to be off limits.

This exchange between different disciplines, along with the ultimate aim of sustainably improving quality of life, is also a key topic and catalyst for innovation at Zumtobel. "Our commitment to the Biennale Architettura is a wonderful opportunity to be part of a larger entity. We are delighted to support partners who use their architecture to not only make a difference in the built environment, but also to help shape the most diverse social, political, community and environmental issues in the world today," explained Daniel Lechner, Director Global Marketing Zumtobel.

Zumtobel partners a number of contributions at the Biennale Architettura 2016. © Biennale Venezia

Zumtobel long-time partner of the Biennale in Venice

Since 2002 the Austrian lighting solutions provider has partnered key projects at the most significant exhibition of contemporary architecture. Zumtobel will this year once again support various contributions with innovative lighting solutions. These include the contributions from the Marte.Marte architectural firm (Vorarlberg, Austria), Manuel Herz Architects (Basel, Switzerland), and Alejandro Aravena, which will feature as part of the central exhibition at the "Arsenale" venue. Also the Austrian national pavilion in the "Giardini", curated by Elke Delugan-Meissl, involves lighting by Zumtobel.

Alejandro Aravena has himself repeatedly shown how architecture encompasses far more than merely aesthetic considerations - a commitment that this year earned him the coveted Pritzker Prize. Aravena was also honoured with a Silver Lion at the Biennale in 2008, whilst in 2014 he and his Elemental team added a Zumtobel Group Award in the "Urban Developments & Initiatives" category to their burgeoning trophy cabinet. This prize was recognition of their master plan for the sustainable reconstruction of Constitución after a devastating earthquake and tsunami almost completely destroyed the Chilean city in 2010. Visitors to Venice can look forward to a Biennale that moves away from the idea of merely waiting for change to happen. With Aravena as curator, the focus is very much on looking to promote the kind of initiative and responsibility required for the major challenges of our time.