The Chinese Pavilion, 11th International Architecture Exhibition, Venice
Biennale is co-presented by China Arts and Entertainment Group, and Shanghai
Institute of Visual Arts, Fudan University. Taking 'Ordinary Architecture' as
the main theme, the curatorial team of Yung Ho Chang, Acheng and Gong Yan put
together a group of works which is divided into two parts titled 'Negotiation'
and 'Daily Growing' respectively. Five leading Chinese media-Southern Weekly,
Oriental Morning Post, Domus China, Urban China and Art World-are invited as
editors of the exhibition catalogue's supplement, offering a multifaceted
interpretation of Ordinary Architecture.
'Ordinary' stands opposed to
'power', it's about authorisation. 'Ordinary Architecture' is buildings with
authorisation. Raising the issue of ordinary architecture in a time when China
serves as the World's architects' playground means to question the authority's
destructive approach of urban planning; one that severs the link between current
architecture and the tradition. In this sense, ordinary architecture is also a
form of activism.
Opposed to designed character, ordinary character is the basic unit of human
Opposed to extraordinary architecture, ordinary
architecture is balanced, moderate, and personal.
Ordinary architecture is, above all, an exhibition.
the ordinariness is about mentality, stance, theme and methodology. Ditching
power and starchitecture, the exhibition was pushed forward collectively through
the discussion of the multiple meanings and practicability of 'ordinariness': Mr
Yung Ho Chang has chosen the 'negotiation' perspective; Mr Zhong Acheng, the
'growing' perspective. The five participating media have chosen the following
sub-themes respectively: Commercial Residential Buidings Since 1979 (Domus
China), Postearthquake Reconstruction &Crises Management (Urban China), Old
Bridges in the Suburb of Shanghai (Art World), The Breathing of Suzhou River
(Oriental Morning Post), and The Chinese Language of Architecture: 2002-2008
Therefore, rather than the end result of a curatorial
process, the exhibition is more like a ongoing construction process which is
constantly complemented by group discussions.
Ordinariness is not grassroots or egalitarianism, it's a state of
Ordinariness stands against power, it's about
authorisation. Ordinary Architecture is buildings with authorisation. Raising
the issue of Ordinary Architecture in a time when China serves as the World's
architects' playground means to question the authority's destructive approach of
urban planning; one that severs the link between current architecture and the
tradition, ignores the individual's basic needs for security and satisfaction.
In this sense, Ordinary Architecture is a way to rethink the authorisation of
policy maker, architect and user. Ordinariness respects the common ground shared
by individuals and actively proposes to the power.
Ordinariness is not about academic terminology, it's about
To talk about ordinariness on a biennale with proclaimed
pioneering tendency is to stand against 'experimentalism', which is being turned
into a game of the mind and a utopia of practice. Ordinariness is paradoxical,
it's the realistic dimension that makes it stand out. We choose to talk about
ordinariness in the Chinese Pavilion, because the terminology of today's Chinese
architecture involves way too many 'extraordinariness'. But just like the
selection of typeface and tool, higher, bigger, and stronger are only matters of
practicability, it's the question of value that is decisive.
architecture must have its own value-to make possible the physical and spiritual
existence of the human being.