The first example is the parabolic brick arch designed by Paraguayan architect Solano Benítez's Gabinete de Arquitectura that can be admired inside the Central Pavilion at the Giardini. The architect moved in this case from one of the principles highlighted in Aravena's rationale - fighting against scarcity with inventiveness.
In developing countries the quality of construction is not very high since the industry is not about craft but about keeping unemployment low. Benítez took two very common things in Paraguay – bricks and unqualified labour – and came up with ingenious systems that may improve things, such as pouring mortar in between bricks placed on the ground, folding bricks into a three-dimensional self-supporting panel, or using bricks as nerves in handmade stereo metric slabs.
Benítez's low tech designs use form as a way to achieve resistance while offering the chance to those who may not have formal mason's training to still be included in the building economy.
This functionally practical solution to the rapid global process of urbanisation that employs unqualified labour to create unexpected architectures won Solano Benítez's Gabinete de Arquitectura the Golden Lion for the Best Participant at the Venice Biennale, with the following motivation "for harnessing simple materials, structural ingenuity and unskilled labour to bring architecture to underserved communities."
The second structure to take into consideration is NLÉ (Kunlé Adeyemi)'s project. The latter is moored in the Gaggiandre area of the Arsenale and it consists in a recreation of the Makoko Floating School in Lagos.
Adeyemi tackles three issues with this project: the rapid process of urbanisation, the scarcity of means to create proper infrastructures, and climate change. Architects should indeed consider different opposing forces and dichotomic issues when planning spaces – in particular overcrowding and urban sprawls, expansion and compression.
Millions of people looking for places where to stay may end up occupying every single piece of land available, but at the same time there is the need to liberate land for circulation, public space and urban services.
Adeyemi uses water as a new medium to deliver urban services and suggests the possibility of creating a floating school. This wooden structure allows to react to an immediate need, it may be transformed and developed into something else and responds to the issue of changing water levels caused by climate chage. After raising awareness at the Biennale for a few months, the structure will be taken to Africa where it will offer a concrete contribution to local challanges.
The project won the Silver Lion for a promising young participant at the Venice Biennale with the motivation "for a powerful demonstration, be it in Lagos or in Venice, that architecture, at once iconic and pragmatic, can amplify the importance of education."
Member of the Boxxet Network of Blogs, Videos and Photos