A Gathering Space

In September 2008, The Lighthouse will champion the very best of Scotland's architecture on the world stage with the nation's first stand alone pavilion. A Gathering Space is a dynamic new commission designed by Gareth Hoskins Architects, and aims to place Scotland at the top of the Biennale's 'must see' list in terms of its ambition, its enviable location and the exciting range of events that are scheduled to take place there.
Scotland has a history of using shared communal places, squares and gardens to express political, social and individual ambition. The Gathering Space is a unique temporary structure that will act as a collective social platform with two distinct areas. On the outside a set of public stairs will encourage informal gatherings, people watching, and recreation. On the inside a covered area will act as an adaptable sheltered public space mirroring the function of a traditional public square.
"Public stairs as seating has had a long tradition of being a type of informal gathering place, previous precedents include the Spanish Steps in Rome and the entrance stairs at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. These places are vital to the urban environment. If all the world is a stage, then the urban stair and the people who use them can be thought of as the audience."

Gareth Hoskins
Over 50 practices entered an anonymous competition organised by The Lighthouse, to create a space to house a series of debates, film screenings and events. All competition submissions were presented anonymously and details of the successful practice were unveiled only when the winner had been selected.
"The stairs as space" vision for the Biennale by Gareth Hoskins Architects proposes a physical presence in Venice that offers both an indoor auditorium and an external gathering space in an installation which will be constructed entirely from sustainably sourced materials. On the outside a set of public stairs will be used for both organised events and informal gatherings. Meanwhile the stairs form a roof, which rises above the indoor auditorium - a space that is expected to seat 80-100 people. The design is based on an original idea by Elisa Yon, and will be in situ in Piazzale della Stazione Santa Lucia during the first month of the Biennale.
''It is a fantastic opportunity for us to be involved in creating Scotland's presence on the world stage of the Biennale," says Gareth Hoskins. "The design aims to combine the formal requirements for an events venue with the creation of a memorable new place within Venice - a new sculptural element that encourages people to pause, look, engage and gather and that creates a strong identity and presence for Scotland amongst the different cultures that will come together within the City.''
A Gathering Space will be situated next to the world famous Ferrovia dello Stato Venezia Santa Lucia, in the heart of Venice on the banks of the Grand Canal.
The structure will be in position for a month and will be seen, visited and enjoyed by architects, architectural thinkers, architecture enthusiasts, holiday-makers and every day folk

The Structure
The Gathering Space project not only provides the opportunity to showcase Scotland's best architectural talent but also to promote its design and construction services and products. The timber structure will be clad with ScotlarchR, the heartwood of Scottish-grown European Larch. The commission generally aims to actively promote Scottish timber manufacturers, suppliers, fabricators, engineers and lighting designers.