Open call Belgian Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2016


17.08.2015, 9:00 to 26.08.2015, 12:00



For the Belgian pavilion at the International Venice Architecture Biennale 2016 the Flanders Architecture Institute invites designers, researchers, critics and other interested parties to develop an exhibition concept focusing on the theme of 'crafts(wo)manship’ and the spaces of the city.

Since the industrial revolution of the mid 18th century in Europe, the machine has taken over from human beings as makers. The production of goods and buildings grew constantly with an increasingly faster pace and with a more standardised output. Craftsmen or -women partially lost their place in the production and found no connection in the machine age. Repetition and the generic replaced the singular and the specific. This evolution gave rise to mass production of, frequently, inferior goods attuned to a continuously declining life span. Reactions to this loss of quality and ‘soul’ of the product came among others from the ‘Arts and Crafts exhibition society’ and particularly William Morris who, in the second half of the nineteenth century, was searching for an authentic style as reaction to the industrial production and the reproduction of historical styles.

Even more necessary now than back then, this debate offers us a framework from which we can skillfully shape our environment with quality. In his recent publication on craftsmanship the Sociologist Richard Sennett also wrote on the loss of the desire to do a job well for its own sake. The process of making things offers humans satisfaction and pleasure in the same way as artisans who strive for the perfect product. In this case liberation can be found in the well-considered choice of materials, construction methods, techniques and by taking time. Much more than just the individual ambition, they involve a collective creation by continuing, cultivating and handing down traditions, skills and local knowledge through which it can also emancipate local regions. The city reveals itself as a rich source of built typologies, materials and practices. Through enhanced collaboration between designers, makers and users, not only a sustainable basis for the future is established, but also an impulse for social cohesion in urban communities. The local and specific offers leverage against the global and generic where the 'crafts(wo)manship’ is embedded in the collective project of building and manufacturing; the process of making the city together.

The proposed project must show a communicable concept that makes the specific interpretation of 'crafts(wo)manship’ visible and tangible at a glance. At the same time the submitting teams should make explicit how they will frame this within the broad social and urban spectre and empower it with poetic and cultural registrations. The idea that emerges is nuanced, but also surprising and reveals aspects of reality that were hidden before. Participating teams or individuals preferably work multidisciplinary and can supplement a clear and strong visual language with sharp reflections.
The open call is aimed specifically at designers as well as researchers to submit a curatorial project beyond their own practice or to create a new specific project as submission for the Belgian pavilion. The selected entry will be monitored closely in the development of the concept by the Flanders Architecture Institute.

The members of the jury are Christoph Grafe (director VAI and chairman of the A-commission), Stefan Devoldere ( Flemish Government Architect ad interim), Lionel Devlieger (ROTOR), Anders Kreuger (curator M HKA), Asli Cicek (XXI magazine and LUCA school of arts), Jan Vermassen (member of  the VAi - Board) and Edith Wouters (Architecture Centre Ar-Tur).

Procedure and timing

  • Stage 1 Open Call

Call for the submission of a brief conceptual statement and 1 illustration that supports the pertinent focus of the proposition and the exhibition concept in relation to the theme of 'Crafts(wo)manship'.
Deadline stage 1: 26th of August 2015  at 12:00

  • Stage 2 Closed Competition September – October 2015

Out of all the entries the jury selects 3 teams who will be invited to join stage 2 of the competition. These 3 teams will work on a fully developed exhibition concept.
Deadline stage 2: 28th of October 2015  

  • Stage 3 Production November 2015 – May 2016

Selection of the laureate for the Belgian pavilion at the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale and start of the production.
Opening of the pavilion: 28th of may 2016

To be submitted for the first round of the call

A concise document that contains a text explaining the proposal aptly in maximum 1800 words or 2 A4's, as well as one illustration (sketch, photograph, collage, ..) which should be added to elucidate the concept visually. At the back of the document 3 references/projects of the submitting team may be added to demonstrate the relevant expertise and ability.
PDF A4 portrait or landscape, max 5 mb, max 5 pages, min 72 dpi

The text includes

  • A clearly articulated vision on 'crafts(wo)manship’
  • an indication of the concrete perspectives (spatial, socio-cultural and visual) which be involved
  • the focus of the theme on which the proposal will elaborate
  • an image that exemplifies how this vision will be communicated through a powerful exhibition
  • a clear description of the team and the disciplines that will be involved within the team. Also should be stated who will take the main responsibility.

It is important to specify how a strong exhibition will come into existence by means of reflection and creation in an interesting and hopefully unconventional way.

The criteria for evaluation are as follows

  • The clarity and contemporary relevant potency of the concept
  • the artistic and visual power of the proposition in the translation into a strong scenography
  • the presence of a team that is appropriately qualified, but that also can reflect on the theme in a broad and deep sense.
Venice Architecture Biennale


17.08.2015, 9:00 to 26.08.2015, 12:00




Flanders Architecture Institute


J. V. Rijswijcklaan 155








Maxime Peeters

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