Venice Biennale visitors climb inside Christian Kerez's unidentified habitable object

VENICE – Inside the Swiss Pavilion at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition, Christian Kerez carves a scalable chamber which is not exactly architecture.

In an effort to reject the celebration and propogation of architecture's status quo, the Swiss architect instead opts to examine and challenge modes of production by doing. By removing the burden of regulations within the safety net created by the Biennale, Kerez tests the limits of technical processes and the imagination with a demonstration of pure research in physical form.


Christian Kerez, Incidental Space, Installation View, Swiss Pavilion at the 15th Architecture Exhibition. Photo Keystone/Gaëtan Bally

Swiss architect Bruno Giacometti's modern pavilion structure becomes the stage for Kerez's architectonic exploration. The walls of the Sala di Scultura, which translates as the Sculpture Room, are wrapped with a wallpaper depicting digital drawings of the yet-to-be-seen coup de grâce and photographs of its physical model shown at a scale of 1:1.  


Christian Kerez, Incidental Space, 2015, Photography. Photo Oliver Dubuis © Christian Kerez (left) Christian Kerez, Incidental Space, 2015, Rendered 3D Scan. Rendering by Melina Mezari © Christian Kerez (right)

In a literal twist of fate, the Sala di Pittura, or Painting Room, maintains its white walls, but acts as a mere canvas for an unidentified habitable object (UHO) at its centre: Incidental Space. Set atop a wooden plinth, a white blob – if you will – bulging with lumps begs the questions: What is it? Why does it look like this? Considering the object's sole purpose is to exist at the biennial epicentre of theoretical architectural discourse, the answers to those questions may surprise more than what the object contains.


Christian Kerez, Incidental Space, Installation View, Swiss Pavilion at the 15th Architecture Exhibition. Photo Oliver Dubuis

SPOILER ALERT. This unpigmented plaster structure is the ultimate expression of a folly –  albeit nestled inside another building. It is intentionally far from an exemplar representation of architecture, but happily sits under the umbrella of architectonic expression. Besides, its existence is an experience, outside and in.


Christian Kerez, Incidental Space, Installation View, Swiss Pavilion at the 15th Architecture Exhibition. Photo Oliver Dubuis

Protruding from one side of the unpredictable yet premeditated mass, a bulbous appendage feels as though it has mysteriously excreted itself. Within the subsequent crevice, a portal – best accessed by crouching – leads to its concealed chamber.


Christian Kerez, Incidental Space, Installation View, Swiss Pavilion at the 15th Architecture Exhibition, Photo Keystone/Gaëtan Bally

Upon crossing the threshold, another surprise unveils itself: an inner microcosm which screams both haphazard and meticulous. Emerging from soft illumination, monochrome peaks and valleys exhibit an extreme degree of complexity which result from a fusion of the human hand and computational processes.


Christian Kerez, Incidental Space, Installation View, Swiss Pavilion at the 15th Architecture Exhibition. Photo Oliver Dubuis

The visually stimulating landscape implores visitors to investigate its cavities with a hands-on approach, by bouldering its carved, cracked and texturized interior. Although its existence is temporary, the cast-gympum construction was made possible with extensive technologies, resources, research and network of architects, engineers, art experts and specialists in digital production.


Christian Kerez, Incidental Space, Installation View, Swiss Pavilion at the 15th Architecture Exhibition. Photo Oliver Dubuis

Going to Art Basel? Then RSVP to attend Laufen's event Release Architecture and hear Christian Kerez delve into the interdisciplinary reality of architecture today.

Commissioners
Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia – Marianne Burki, Head of Visual Arts; Sandi Paucic, Project Manager for Swiss participation Venice Biennale
Deputy Commissioner Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia – Rachele Giudici Legittimo, Project Coordinator for Swiss participation Venice Biennale
Exhibitor Christian Kerez
Curator Sandra Oehy
Exhibition 28 May – 27 November 2016


Curator Sandra Oehy and architect Christian Kerez at Incidental Space. Photo Keystone/Gaëtan Bally

Contributors
ETH Zürich, Department of Architecture: Benjamin Dillenburger (Assistant Professor for Digital Building Technologies), Joseph Schwartz (Chair of Structural Design), Karin Sander (Chair of Architecture and Art), Ludger Hovestadt (Chair of Computer-Aided Architectural Design), Christian Kerez (Chair of Architecture and Design), Alessandro Tellini (Raplap D-Arch ETHZ). ETH Zurich, Department of Computer Science: Daniele Panozzo and Olga Sorkine-Hornung (Interactive Geometry Lab).

Team Christian Kerez Zurich AG / Chair of Christian Kerez at ETH Zurich
Team leaders Joni Kaçani, Lea Grunder
Collaborators Melina Mezari, Poltak Pandjaitan, Nicolò Krättli, Adi Grüninger, Oliver Dubuis, Florian Christopher Seedorf, Hermes Kìller, Nicholas Hoban, Gianna Ledermann, Jann Erhard, Dimitrios Katsis, Victoria Fard
Students Biennale Atelier Antoine Bargain, Marco Carraro, Monika Dobrakowska, Victoria Fard, Micol Galeotti, Tommaso Gomiero, Martina Ivancic, Katia Jancikic, Dimitrios Katsis, Michel Kessler, Jens Knöpfel, Yiqiu Liu, Niti Malik, Iacopo Manini, Alessandro Mazza, Giulia Migliaccio, Francesca Pasqual, Matija Peric, Simona Quagliano, Wilhelm Reitzer, Luca Rizzo, Rina Rolli, Yuki Shimizu, Michael Thoma, Joana Tschopp, Nathanael Weiss
Graphic design and visual communication Ludovic Balland Typography Cabinet

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