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'Le Foyer de Taiwan' opens in Venice

Since the beginning of the modern era, architects have held individuality as the highest value and distinctive originality as the very basis of their profession. Ultimately, however, a growing number of buildings have turned into single architectural statements deliberately cut off from their environment.

To the contrary, architecture should express our society's common purposes and tell our story long after we are gone, just like the columns of Greece and Rome, the great Gothic cathedrals across Europe, or the Venice palaces, which combine with the lagoon to create something beyond nature itself. By reflecting the religious, political and social values of the day, these palazzi are more than individual spectacles: They are the manifestations of values through which the community takes shape.

It is therefore little wonder that this year's “Venice Biennale International Architecture Exhibition,” which runs in the City of Water from now until Nov. 25, is putting more emphasis on continuity, context and memory. By shifting away from starchitecture towards something quieter, more collaborative and utopian, David Chipperfield, the Biennale director, successfully addresses the “lack of understanding that exists between the profession and the society.”

Common Ground

For this 13th edition, Chipperfield encouraged architects instead to “demonstrate the importance of influence and of the continuity of cultural endeavor,” to illustrate common grounds and shared ideas that form the basis of the architectural culture. “'Common Ground' should define the profession and train architects attention on the city which is something created in collaboration with every citizen,” he wrote in a statement.

“Common Ground” also puts into perspective the individual architectural achievements that have given identity to the recent years, and to “provoke a more focused consideration of our shared concerns and expectations.”

In a time of global anxiety, Paolo Beretta, the Biennale president, stressed that the international event will further help architects to “emerge from the crisis of identity that they are going through, and at the same time offer to the public a chance to look inside architecture.”

“The crux is to mend the fracture between architecture and civil society,” he continued.

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 East, West clash as Venice festival gets off to thrilling start 
From left: Architects Liao Ming-Bin (廖明彬), Michael Lin (林友寒), Liao Wei-Li (廖偉立) and Liu Ke-Feng (劉克峰), curator of Taiwan Pavilion, designed “Architect / Geographer — Le Foyer de Taiwan” (Courtesy of National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts)

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