In the first of our special series on the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale, the Danish Pavilion looks into a rich history of innovation in order to direct a sustainable future for its cities
The seminal research by physicist Niels Bohr lies at the heart of this year’s Danish Pavilion, designed and curated by landscape architect and professor in urban design at the University of Copenhagen Stig L. Andersson. Bohr received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922 for his work investigating the atomic structure and quantum physics. His pioneering proposal towards the safe and sustainable use of nuclear power is drawn upon in an exhibition that is at once nostalgic and forward-looking.
Andersson weaves Bohr’s innovative drive, put forward at a crucial point in the history of the development of Danish society, into a contemporary evocation. ”My ambition is to present the interrelationship of forgotten, repressed or underexposed parts of the dynamic Danish modernity,” he explains. “Not only in the history of architecture, but also in science, art and poetry.” The blurring of these diverse disciplines is sharpened through a philosophical lens, with Andersson’s Danish Pavilion arguing for a realignment of this overlooked past with the common road into a sustainable future.
”My ambition is to present the interrelationship of forgotten, repressed or underexposed parts of the dynamic Danish modernity”
The unprecedented energy of the time is further explored through a spotlight on Denmark’s Nordic Welfare State, in which architecture was assigned a crucial role in planning for a 20th century modern and democratic lifestyle. Its open interplay with nature is conjured by Andersson through butterflies, the smell of dirt, and pine needles that crunch underfoot in the pavilion. Taking these forward, larger questions over the decision making in Denmark’s cities for the future are raised. Part of major scenario project “DK2050”, the route to a sustainable Denmark in the year 2050 is presented for debate.
A common future based upon this history of modernity is projected, building upon its twin foundational principles of aesthetics and rationality. Andersson’s poetic exhibition explores Denmark’s innovative past in order to present bold new aspirations for the 21st century.