German Pavilion. Venedig
The German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture is a structure with a turbulent history: erected in Bavarian classicist style in 1909, it was significantly altered during the period of German National Socialism. Today it has become an art gallery, opening on a regular basis to the world's public. To reinterpret this highly charged building was the task set by the Deutscher Werkbund (German Association of Craftsmen) for 22 architectural consultants – and to examine its present relevance to today's modern architecture. The reponses to the exhibition "This is modern" were summarised at the 14th Biennale of Architecture, which took place from July to August 2014 in Venice, and were also on display in November on RKW's initiative in Düsseldorf.
The design does not question the history of the building – the existing is only extended, reoriented and transformed. The monumental facade on the landward side is left unchanged, as are the almost sacred exhibition rooms. The achievements of the historic modern are reflected, while the language of form of the second modern is fully engaged. The design also draws from ideas of classical style, continues the existing grand scale and updates the representative element. The architectural two-faced Janus head is new: the Pavilion gains a second face, equal in status to the first, on the former rear side facing the lagoon. A terrace in front of this second face widens and a set of steps leads down from there to a reception hall at the water's edge. The whole site now, for the first time, has a facade on the side facing the water – the pavilion is the first palace on the Grand Canal.