In the past editions of the Venice Architecture Biennale there have been projects that featured living entities inside a pavilion or that were inspired by biology. The Nordic Pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition (on until 25th November) moved along the same lines and came up with a series of breathing units forming the installation "Another Generosity", by Eero Lundén, founder of the Helsinki-based Lundén Architecture Company.
The project looks at the relationship between nature and the built environment, a link already explored in the layout of the Nordic Pavilion, designed by Sverre Fehn in 1962, and integrating three plane trees inside the 446-square metre space.
"Another Generosity" was the result of a joint effort, it was indeed commissioned by the directors of three museums - Juulia Kauste and Reetta Heiskanen from the Museum of Finnish Architecture; Nina Berre from the Norwegian National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design and Kieran Long from ArkDes, the Swedish National Centre for Architecture and Design.
The entire space of the pavilion is filled with giant living pods: these alien pumpkin-shaped creatures, produced by the company Pneumocell, well-known for its inflatable structures, furniture and objects, with the help of BuroHappold Engineering and Aalto University, are attached to the ceiling with a series of tubes acting like umbilical cords.
The pods vaguely call to mind Frei Otto's experiments with stacked soap bubbles, but they are filled with air and water inside them, and they respond to external (carbon dioxide levels, humidity and temperature values transmitted to the pods by the sensors located outside the pavilion) or unseen stimuli, inviting visitors to become more aware of the changes around them.
While it may not be as engaging as other projects that involved the use of technology in previous years, "Another Generosity" is still worth seeing as the pods create a futuristic setting, even though the final aim of the project – sadly among the very few ones presented at this year's Biennale that establish a connection between technology and nature – is definitely not just visual but it consists in inspiring in the next few months a wider discussion about nature and humankind, architecture and ecology, and organisms and machines.
As Eero Lundén states in the press release accompanying this project: "With today's mounting environmental challenges, we have the responsibility to restore the balance between the built and natural environment. Architecture as our most fundamental technology needs to be reinvented and, as architects, we must consider who or what we are building for."