On the day after the public opening, the crowds died down a bit and I finally had the chance to see nearly every national pavilion. The following ten have come in first in something in these unofficial superlative rankings. Continue.
MOST NEGATIVE OUTLOOK (Also MOST CLEVER and MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED): The Israeli Pavilion’s Aircraft Carrier
Have taken the overall theme of Common Ground quite literally, Israel used the exhibition to demonstrate who in common control the literal ground that Israel rests on. They incorporated this theme without losing clarity of concept by selling tchotchkes with various references to Israeli politics, society, and economy. Judging by their sales so far, the shop will invariably make the Israeli pavilion most likely to succeed.
An arrow in the Isreali pavilion points toward the American pavilion.
MOST POSITIVE OUTLOOK: The US Pavilion’s Spontaneous Interventions
A timeline in the US Pavilion began with 7500 BCE Catal Huyuk and ended with 2012 Census reports declaring US cities growing faster than suburbs. Along the way it exhibited 124 projects that helped to improve US cities in recent years—small scale improvements by individuals instead of institutions. The interactive exhibition design for the banners, done by California based M-A-D design, made the content-heavy exhibition approachable.
The US Pavilion received an honorable mention for Best National Participation.
MOST MONUMENTAL: The Serbian Pavilion’s JEDAN:STO / 100
The Serbian word for “table” is much like the Serbian word for “one hundred”. Thus the basis for the Serbian exhibition: a gigantic white table the size of 100 tables. The length of the table allows it to act as a sounding board and visitors to the pavilion tapped with their palms to create sound vibrations in the room.
LEAST VISUAL PAVILION: The Polish Pavilion’s Making the walls quake as if they were dilating with the secret knowledge of great powers
Another space devoid of objects but filled with a resonating sound: the ventilation shafts project the noises of the giardini into the aurally separated space of the pavilion. The Polish pavilion was also the first honorable mention for Best National Participation.
BEST USE OF CARDBOARD: The Taiwanese Pavilion’s Architect/Geographer – Le Foyer de Taiwan
This pavilion looks as if it were carved by a CNC machine hanging from the ceiling into a series of cavernous rooms that form an apparently liveable home.
MOST COLORFUL: The Venezuelan Pavilion’s La ciudad socializante vs la ciudad alienante
The strong gestures and primary colors of Domenico Silvestro’s drawings in the exhibition are meant to generate interest from architects and lay people alike.
MOST FUN PAVILION: The Spanish Pavilion’s SpainLab
In addition to a meeting room located in a transparent plastic flower structure and a robotic garden, the Spanish Pavilion has a trampoline.
MOST COMFORTABLE: The Brazilian Pavilion’s Riposatevi and the Kuwaiti Pavilion’s Kethra
It really depends on your preferred resting style: peripheral cushions in the inaugural Kuwaiti pavilion or hammocks at the Brazilian pavilion. In the case of Brazil, hanging around doesn’t mean you are lazy. A quote by the Lúcio Costa, planner of: “The same people who rest in hammocks can, whenever necessary, build a new capital in three years’ time.” In Kuwait’s pavilion you can contemplate something like the opposite: failed masterplans for Kuwait City are printed strewn across the wide floor.
MOST OVER-THE-TOP: The Russian Pavilion’s i-city
The lower level of the pavilion was unlit, its walls filled with peep-hole images of Russia’s 45 Cold War relic closed cities. But upon entering the upper level you are given an ipad and gestured into a palace of QR codes. The result is overwhelming.
TINIEST MODELS: The Japanese Pavilion’s Possible Here? Home-for-all
A focus on building back post-tsunami and not on starchitecture. Many of these little models have a hand-made quality. The Japanese pavilion was also the winner of the Golden Lion for best national participation.