Cultured Magazine

Summer 2014

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CULTURED 75 stARTT This year's Biennale features a special exhibition called "Monditalia," focusing on the incredible breadth of Italy's architectural know-how. The Rome-based stARTT, founded by four young Italian designers, is the epitome of the new firm that is turning heads. In 2011, the firm scored its biggest coup yet, topping the first international edition of MoMA PS1's Young Architects Program. Their winning project, WHATAMI, was installed on the plaza outside Zaha Hadid's MAXXI: Museum in Rome. The cheeky relandscaping involved bucolic grass-covered hills and oversize artificial red poppies, creating a huge canopy of "nature" all over the museum's front yard. So Biennale-goers likely will want to see stARTT's take on a "ghost hospital" in Rome that closed in 2008. ARUP One of the primary exhibitions Koolhaas has come up with is called "Fundamentals," a focus on the easily overlooked basic building blocks of architecture. For the room devoted to the escalator, Koolhaas tapped the firm Arup, a global powerhouse whose contribution to many of the world's biggest projects is often unheralded—their focus is engineer- ing, making complex buildings work on a massive scale. Arup has built icons like the Sydney Opera House and the Beijing "Water Cube" for the 2008 Olympics. In progress is the formidably complicated, decades-in-the-making Second Avenue Subway in New York. The firm is no less cutting-edge for having been in the game for decades. PHOTO © ARUP FAT The Architecture Biennale mirrors the older art edition in that there are national pavilions, this year from 66 countries. One of Great Britain's organizers is FAT, which stands for Fashion Architecture Taste, and the award-winning London firm is actually disbanding soon, so Venice is the last chance to see their brand-new work. Established in 1995, FAT has gained a reputation for the use of bright color and graphics, on everything from bus shelters to apartment buildings as well as products like a black vase that happens to be shaped like Mies van der Rohe's head in profile. Although the firm will be no more, it's likely we'll be seeing lots more of the fearless and talented principals, Sean Griffiths, Charles Holland and Sam Jacob. WHATAMI by stARTT, installed at the MAXXI museum in Rome A rendering of Villa Rotunda Redux by FAT Inside the Kadare Cultural Centre, designed by Arup, in Yurihonjo, Japan

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