At Biennale 2018, Greece is looking for its “Freespace” inside schools, the places where architectural knowledge is transmitted. Curators Xristina Argyros and Ryan Neiheiser, though, focus more on the space where learning happens rather than on the design outcomes of such experience. Titled The School of Athens, the exhibition is a result of a series of joint workshops between the National Technical University of Athens and London’s Architectural Association, it collects 56 universities models, selected with no historical or geographical limitations, even including unrealized projects.
56 3d-printed maquettes with the same material and language, are lifted at eyesight by a regular grid of pedestals. Freespace guidelines becomes a filter, an interpretative clue that gives well-known spaces a new and unexpected shape: in fact, instead of representing the totality of the buildings, they critically select and visualize only their commons, those intermediate spaces open to unexpected uses. Some architectures, such as the Architectural Association’s Georgian row-houses in Bloomsbury, are barely recognizable, and yet the functioning of their public spaces stands out with powerful clarity.
The School of Athens is a potentially open-ended research, completed by a cool catalogue in three mini-volumes. Each one provides a different comparison tool between the projects on show (images, drawings, data). The pavilion’s interior is nicely laid out in order to build a Freespace (here, a reinterpreted amphitheater) which visitors can appropriate as they wish.
Images by Ugo Carmeni