The Venice biennale was founded in 1895 in one of La Serenissima’s few green spaces, the Giardini di Castello. It has occupied a random series of buildings in the park, which include national pavilions (the Belgians built the first in 1907 and the U.S. joined the party in 1930) and an undistinguished hall called the Italian pavilion since the late 1930s. Today the organization that operates the biennales (art, architecture, film etc.) announced plans to change the name of the Italian pavilion in the giardini to the Palazzo delle Esposizioni della Biennale and upgrade its aging infrastructure. While these changes will be welcome by the public, the spaces are all being designed by artists, not architects.
The Italian pavilion will be enlarged with a new café designed by Tobias Rehberger, educational space by Massimo Bartolini, and a bookstore by Rirkrit Tiravanija. This pavilion will now be open to the public all year as the biennale’s archives will be moved into the building and entered through the elegant sculpture garden designed in 1952 by Venetian native Carlo Scarpa.
The grand and spectacular biennale exhibition space the Arsenale, a short walk from the giardini will also receive a new bridge and entrance at the Giardini delle Vergini and its exhibition space enlarged from 800 to 1,800 square meters. The biennale organization stresses that the renderings of its new facilities are still tentative and may change and one may only wonder if they chose artists, rather than architects, to design their new facilities because of the confusion sowed by architects in the biennale who have long shown a preference to exhibit art not buildings.