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NYT praises Korea as a must-visit pavilion in Venice Biennale

NYT praises Korea as a must-visit pavilion in Venice Biennale

Posted May. 27, 2016 08:12,   

Updated May. 27, 2016 08:17

The U.S. daily newspaper New York Times has chosen the Korean pavilion as “one of the national pavilions that you must visit” in the 15th Venice Biennale of Architecture.

Themed around the phrase “Reporting from the Front,” the Biennale will run from May 28 to November 27, and Korea has come up with the theme called “the Floor Area Ratio Game.” The theme focuses on the relationship between the parameters of floor plan that is building code, the building owner bent on maximizing the usable space within the constraints, and the architect confused about his role in such a conflicting environment.

In a preview held a day before the opening of the national pavilions on Wednesday, the New York Times said that the Korean pavilion did a great job in describing the internal conflict that an architect is going through in trying to find a balance between consideration about the quality of life for users of the space and commercial values of the building, while being swayed by market logic.

Observers say that the Floor Area Ratio Game resonates well with the overarching theme of the architecture exhibition proposed by the Biennale's director Alejandro Aravena (49•Chile), who has expressed a keen interest in the role that architecture can play for social welfare such as by providing housing for low-income families. In addition to Korea, countries such as Yemen, Poland, the U.S. and the Netherlands, got positive reviews.

“This is the second time that Korea has participated in an architecture exhibition with a single theme, following the first one from two years ago. There was criticism that an architect is trying to tell a story about real estate market, but the exhibition was well received, and we got positive feedbacks as well. So, I am very proud and excited,” said Shin Eun-ki, a professor of the Department of Urban Architecture at Incheon University, who has participated in the event as a deputy curator.

Some national pavilions such as Switzerland’s and Israel’s proposed a different interpretation about the meaning the main theme and draw attention by showing the “front knowhow about construction structure technology.” The results will be announced on May 28 along with the award ceremony.

베네치아=손택균기자 sohn@donga.com