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Open for Maintenance – Wegen Umbau geöffnet
Press Release by the German Pavilion for the Closing of the 18th Architecture Biennale 2023
The 18th Architecture Biennale in Venice, titled “The Laboratory of the Future,” is coming to an end on November 26, 2023. The successful German contribution “Open for Maintenance – Wegen Umbau geöffnet” makes the argument that ecological and social sustainability are inextricably linked. As a starting point, the German Pavilion collected leftover materials from last year’s Art Biennale and built up an extensive archive of building components. Over a period of six months, students and apprentices together with local activist groups, in keeping with the principles of circular construction, reused the material in a continuous workshop program called “Maintenance 1:1.”
From May 20 to November 26, a total of 29 weeklong workshops and a summer school were held at the German Pavilion and in different locations throughout Venice. Among the participants were more than 500 students from 32 international universities, 32 trades apprentices from 11 German apprenticeship providers, as well as 17 Venetian groups with their respective local networks. Thus, the German contribution has achieved its goal of opening up architecture as a rigid discipline—and the Biennale as a forum of exclusionary representation—by anchoring them in the city’s day-to-day life. Networks underpinning civil society have been strengthened, laying the foundation for lasting change. All remaining materials, as well as the Pavilion’s fully equipped workshop, will be transferred to local actors, perpetuating the contribution’s positive effects beyond the six-month run of the Biennale itself.
President Frank-Walter Steinmeier of the Federal Republic of Germany, who visited the Pavilion in September, pointed out the special nature of the contribution: “The German Pavilion has a specific feature that sets it apart from other exhibitions here—namely the question of how we can make greater use of materials in future construction and thereby also protect resources. ‘Open for Maintenance’ is the name of this highly instructive exhibition. It shows us the range of things that can be produced with material accumulated during exhibitions here in recent years. An illustrative example in which visitors to the Pavilion are invited to actively participate.” (Statement from September 22, 2023)
Federal Minister for Building Klara Geywitz, who inaugurated the German Pavilion on May 19, 2023, was impressed by the approach of the contribution financed by the Federal Ministry for Housing, Urban Development and Building: “The German contribution succeeded in vividly conveying the complexity of pressing issues—ranging from resource protection, to transformation in construction and heating, to a social approach in architecture—by using practical solutions. The collected materials were not only used to upgrade the German Pavilion by installing a new ramp and a sustainable, waterless toilet, but also to support local civil society in its efforts to create a sustainable and social city.”
In a detailed feature on the German contribution published on November 6, 2023, the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung emphasized the interventions’ lasting impact beyond the Biennale: “‘Open for Maintenance’ is sustainable not only in terms of resource-efficient renovation, but also for the students, who will certainly continue to benefit from these experiences in their own practice.”
The architectural interventions at the Pavilion and the results of the workshops are extensively documented on the project’s website:
Exhibition catalog: ARCH+ 252 „Open for Maintenance – Wegen Umbau geöffnet“
Curatorial Team: ARCH+ / SUMMACUMFEMMER / BÜRO JULIANE GREB
Anne Femmer, Franziska Gödicke, Juliane Greb, Christian Hiller, Petter Krag, Melissa Makele, Anh-Linh Ngo, Florian Summa
The project was made possible by the support of numerous partners and sponsors. The complete list and acknowledgments can be found here:
Commissioned by the Federal Ministry for Housing, Urban Development and Building