Architecture Biennale in Venice – The Belgian pavilion

Sorry i’ve been a bit lame and vague in keeping up with my reports from the Venice Architecture Biennale. I’m going to post a couple more stories about the event then we’ll move on with our life.

Eric Mairiaux - rotor-venise-0142 SMALL.jpgImage by Eric Mairiaux

Just like two years ago, the Belgian pavilion was the one i liked the most. This has very little to do with my nationality. I entered having no idea of what i’d find there and was almost immediately struck by the simplicity and charm of the exhibition.

This year’s Director of the Biennale Kazuyo Sejima of SANAA invited participants to explore the relationship between architecture and human occupation. No one has taken the theme as literally as Rotor at the Belgian Pavilion. By focusing on the mundane and the overlooked details of architecture, the collective brought poetry, history and emotion to the biennale.

Eric Mairiaux - rotor-venise-0069 SMALL.jpgTwo double flights of stairs. Image by Eric Mairiaux

Called Usus/Usures, the exhibition investigates a specific phase in the life of construction materials: the time when they are subjected to use and are gradually re-shaped by human beings passing through them, walking on them, touching, pressing, stroking, scratching or holding them.

rev94653(1)-ori.jpgPhoto by Eric Mairiaux

The Rotor collective spent years touring public buildings in Belgium to document and collect sections of walls, banisters with chipped paint, wooden floors, stained carpets, tired stairs, elevator cabins, plastic chairs, door handles, windows, and other worn out fragments of buildings. A selection of them hang on the white walls of the pavilion. Taken out of their original context, the objects looks like minimalist sculptures.

Rotor’s interest in fatigued bits and pieces of architecture started as a study to evaluate the viability of a resale network for construction and demolition waste. Their concern, however, was not entirely ecological:

Like any product, they also elicit an aesthetic evaluation and, indeed, an emotional one. Traces of wear play a crucial role in this. They frequently evoke a sense of repulsion from potential buyers, but occasionally evoke attraction and even fascination.


With wear and tear, the material gains a new dimension that is both physical and situational.


A few pictures i took. Image on the homepage by Eric Mairiaux.

Usus/Usures is a project by Lionel Devlieger, Michaël Ghyoot, Maarten Gielen, Benjamin Lasserre, Tristan Boniver, and Melanie Tamm, in collaboration with Benedikte Zitouni and Ariane d’Hoop.

The Venice Biennale of Architecture runs until 21st November, 2010.