This video shows an interview with architect David Chipperfield, the director of the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale. He has offices in London, Berlin and Milan, and a representative office in Shanghai. Uncompromisingly modernist in outlook, his practice is driven by a consistent philosophical approach, rather than a ‘house style’. Chipperfield studied Architecture at Kingston Polytechnic, graduating in 1976 along with the Architectural Association in London. He worked at the practices of Douglas Stephen, Richard Rogers and Norman Foster, and in 1984 established his own practice, David Chipperfield Architects. The architect got the recognition thanks to the award-winning River and Rowing Museum in Henley-on-Thames designed from green oak cladding, concrete and glass. He has been awarded with many architectural awards including RIBA’s Royal Gold Medal and Stirling Prize, Andrea Palladio Prize and Tessenow Gold Medal. During the interview, Chipperfield speaks about Common Ground, his theme for the biennale, and gives his views on the contemporary architecture scene, comparing architects to “perfume brands at Duty Free, on a pedestal, singular and isolated”.
Chipperfield explains that the emphasis of the 2012 Biennale is on what we all have in common. Above all, the ambition of Common Ground is to reassert the existence of an architectural culture, made up not just of singular talents but a rich continuity of diverse ideas united in a common history, common ambitions, common predicaments and ideals. He explains that Common Ground in a context of architecture biennale clearly has a sort of double meaning. Firstly, it talks about intellectual common ground, about the ideas that we share about architecture, within and beyond our own professional boundaries. The title invites us to consider how these shared perceptions, concerns and expectations may be better directed. Secondly, Common Ground (as opposed to public space) infers a territory that is shared within a context of difference. The theme identifies the search for the shared within the apparently diverse, and helps us to imagine strategies to deal with our common predicament and our strangely persistent need to feel part of a world bigger than the one required for our individual comfort. In his opinion,n that is something which really needs to be back in the agenda.
Photo from designmena.com
The architect convinces that within the context of the Architecture Biennale, ‘Common Ground’ evokes the image not only of shared space and shared ideas but of a rich ground of history, experience, image and language. He thinks that layers of explicit and subliminal material form our memories and shape of our judgements. While we struggle to orient ourselves in a continuously changing world, what we are familiar with is an inevitable part of our ability to understand our place. Chipperfield is convinced that it is critical that our expectations and our history don’t become a justification for sentimentality or resistance to progress. He encourages that we must therefore articulate better our evaluations and prejudices if we are not to regard what has come before as something to escape and if we are to give value to a cumulative and evolving architectural culture rather than a random flow of meaningless images and forms.
He adds that the theme of Common Ground allows us to engage with these themes, provoking us to think about the physical expression of our collective aspirations and ideas of society. It reminds us of our shared history and encourages us to think about the collaborative nature of architecture and the extraordinary potential of its collective process.
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