The 15th Venice International Biennial of Architecture will take place from 28 May to 27 November 2016 (professional days on 26 and 27 May) in Giardini and Arsenale. It also occupies the historic centre of the city.

The French Pavilion

Following a call for projects launched by the French Institute, operator of the French Pavilion, the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and International Development and for Culture and Communication have selected the project News from the Front, New Riches? proposed by the Obras-Frédéric Bonnet team and the AJAP14 Collective.

This project is fully in line with the Reporting from the front The Biennale’s Commissioner General, Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena, winner of the 2016 Pritzker Prize.

The Commissioner General explains his choice as follows:

There are still many battles to be fought and won, as well as borders to be widened in order to improve the quality of the constructible environment and, consequently, the quality of life of the inhabitants. More and more people on our planet are still looking for a decent place to live, and the conditions for doing so are getting more complicated every day. Reporting from the front wants to show a wider audience what it means to improve the quality of life when working in difficult circumstances (...).

We want to learn; to learn thanks to this architecture which, despite the few available means, exalts what we have and not what we lack.”

Alejandro Aravena proposes to highlight successes that deserve to be told, exemplary stories that need to be shared, where architecture has made, and will make a difference by winning battles and pushing boundaries ».

New Wealth

The project News from the Front, New Riches? Developed in the French Pavilion by the Obras-Frédéric Bonnet team and the Collectif AJAP14 makes a unique contribution to this debate and is a real commitment to the daily life and quality of life.

It shows how everywhere in France new organizations are emerging and redefining the potential of territories, especially rural and peri-urban. It also reflects the vitality of French architecture, its know-how and its ability to respond to emerging issues.

The architects' approach is resolutely optimistic: We do not believe in the dizzying competition of territories, we believe on the contrary that there are huge resources everywhere, complementarities, latent values that it is enough to mobilize, reveal, fertilize.”

The architect, here, does not draw a large emblematic building, but rather focuses on more ordinary buildings, highlighting the architecture of everyday life, serving the greatest number. Its role is not limited to that of builder, it is the witness engaged in a transformation of the territory, where many others - elected officials, citizens, businesses - are involved.

Frédéric Bonnet and the AJAP14 Collective, are convinced of the need to call on various partners to build a richer view on these transformations of the French territory. Field professionals, photographers, videographers, writers, etc. make up this multidisciplinary team around the territorial issue, including:

  • the collective of photographers France(s) Territoire Liquide,
  • the collective of photographers and videographers MYOP,
  • Fourre-Tout editions for the editorial project,
  • the National Graduate Schools of Architecture, coordinated by the National Graduate School of Architecture of Nancy.

The scenography

The proposal for the French Pavilion is based on a strong territorial anchorage, drawing on the contributions of the National Graduate Schools of Architecture, the Architectural, Urban and Environmental Councils (CAUE), of the network of Houses of Architecture and Architects-Councils of the State, in order to account for the abundance and variety of achievements throughout the national territory.

The scenography is at the service of the richness of the content. It takes shape around a discourse extended to the territory and not only through an exhibition of architecture in the classical sense.

To set up the project, the team plans to install it in two large parts.

The central room presents ordinary situations, transformed by an architectural intervention: it is the augmented banality. The sites bring together ten projects selected by the commissariat, and photographed by the collective France(s) Territoire Liquide.

The peripheral rooms offer three transversal themes, reproducing the experiments and the changes underway: the social environment as the soil of the architectural project; the constructive filières, the emotion of the well built, the know-how; the pool that, by presenting the numerous testimonies of schools, architectural houses and architects consulted, reveals the diversity of the mesh of these approaches, the extent of the front” across the territory.

The editorial project

The catalogue takes the form of a book-object, a travel diary that draws up an inventory of the transformation of everyday life by architecture.

The book is published by the publishing house Fourre-Tout, in Liège (Belgium).