16th Venice Architecture Biennale Albanian Pavilion Competition Design Proposal
The Albanian Pavilion creates a sense of place, a journey through space, that provokes the senses and imagination. At the end of the journey, through pathways, like a bundle of fiber optics, leads to information about Albania.
The intervention aims to dissolve and unconstrain the spatial limitations of the existing room, by introducing a series of bent vaults that pull people into and through space, creating new spatial and circulatory conditions [Freespace].
The vaults are an interpretation of the Albanian arched portals. Citadels used portals to control access into the fortress. The main entry points were organized with arched portals and vaulted geometries as layered boundaries enclosing a sequence of spaces. Portals were also built within the citadel’s walls offering opportunities to connect with the outside, framing views, and providing enclosure. The portal typology is also present as entry thresholds into private houses in cities like Berat and Gjirokaster. These thresholds demarcate the lines between private and public, inside and outside, sheltered and exposed.
In the Albanian Pavilion, these thresholds are extended and extruded within an elliptical form. Users entering the assigned pavilion’s room are faced with two options: walking tangentially around the elliptical structure or going through the portals into the vaulted space. When the vaulted passageways cross with one another, new void conditions and geometrical intersections are generated. The resultant is an architectural maze where the edges of crossing vaults are redefined. The vaulted trajectories bend and produce spatial awareness, capable of transforming the perception of place and time. The crossing vaults offer a multiplicity of paths and views, freedom of movement, and a democratic array of choices within a curated space and experience. The vault end conditions are always associated with entry point or with contemplative places where art is being displayed.
Immaterial qualities of space are achieved through formal geometry and innovative construction methods. The Pavilion’s structure is conceived as a waffle plywood frame system. Expanded metal mesh is affixed to the wood structure and follows the contours of the vaulted geometries. White plaster finish covers the metal lath to achieve a smooth and continuous surface.
The Albanian Pavilion is not only a freespace but a safespace. The kind of abstract space that inspires, nurtures the spirit, bends time and transcends mental boundaries. A space that expands possibilities of movement, a space that stimulates senses and triggers the imagination. A transcendental space that is uninhibited by construction methods and tectonics. A space that evokes our architectural history and curates the colorful, reflective, and sublime artwork of our most beloved contemporary Albanian artists.