After a successful six-month run, this year’s British Pavilion exhibition Home Economics at the Venice Architecture Biennale has now closed. The exhibition opened to the public on 28 May and received more than 145,000 visitors when it closed on 27 November 2016.
Director of Architecture Design Fashion at the British Council and Commissioner of the British Pavilion, Sarah Mann said:
"It is really encouraging to see that our exhibition, Home Economics, has resonated with so many people, sparking a wider debate about the future of domestic life in the UK. The Biennale offers the British Council the opportunity to contribute to global contemporary architectural discourse on an international platform, working collaboratively across borders to showcase critical ideas and research. The increase in visitors to the pavilion this year is a clear signal that the theme of the biennale addressed vital and timely questions about the role of architecture in a complex world."
Home Economics responded to the biennale curator Alejandro Aravena’s theme Reporting from the Front by tackling the frontline of British architecture: the home. The curators, Shumi Bose, Jack Self and Finn Williams invited established and emerging artists, architects and designers to produce immersive 1:1 environments to propose new models for the home. The exhibition unfolded through a series of five architectural propositions, designed around incremental amounts of time: Hours, Days, Months, Years and Decades.
Overall, the Venice Architecture Biennale welcomed more than 270,000 visitors and the British Pavilion played host to a rich programme of talks and events, including a series of workshops co-produced with the Flanders Architecture Institute, Creative Industries Fund NL and the Deutsche Architekturmuseum. In July, the Guardian launched a film series, How We Live Now, interrogating the places that people call home around the world and, in November, the British Council collaborated with Creative Dundee and the Architecture Fringe on a panel discussion titled ‘What is the Future of Domestic Life?’ at Dundee Contemporary Arts.
The curators of Home Economics, made this statement:
"It has been an honour to represent Britain at the Venice Architecture Biennale, and an invaluable experience working with the British Council and our team of collaborators to produce Home Economics. The exhibition was designed to challenge the status quo, asking important questions of British society and architectural culture in the process. We are grateful for the platform the British Pavilion has given us to bring these ideas to a global audience, and particularly pleased that a number of the collaborations and concepts from Home Economics are already resulting in concrete responses to the housing crisis back in the UK."
In addition, this year the British Council ran the second edition of the Venice Fellowships programme – a steward-study programme in partnership with architecture schools and arts institutions from around the UK including Manchester University, Arts University Bournemouth and University of Arts London.
Each of the 50 students and young professionals on the programme spent one month in Venice during the biennale, invigilating the pavilion and conducting site-specific and archival research around the biennale theme, Reporting from the Front and Home Economics, exploring sub-themes such as temporal occupation; the front line of architecture, and domestic vs. civic.
Speaking about the Fellowships programme, Gwen Webber, Project Manager of the British Pavilion, said:
"Building on the success of the inaugural Venice Fellowships in 2014, this year we worked with RIBA to open the programme up to a cross-section of creative professionals in addition to university students, enriching the experience for all participants. The chance to study topical themes, live in Venice and contribute to a wider set of ideas and research remains a unique and valuable opportunity."