Lettischer Pavillon / 16. Internationale Architekturbiennale
La Biennale di Venezia
26. Mai - 25. November 2018
Arsenale Artiglierie
Fotos © Ansis Stark

The housing question is where architecture most directly intersects with political, social, and economic concerns. This is especially notable in apartment buildings. On the one hand, an individual apartment offers isolation from the outside world. On the other hand, it implies interdependence within a larger structure, be it a building, a utility infrastructure, a residential community, or a governing framework.
Not surprisingly, this category of architecture has often been used for testing and introducing new modes of organising life. This has definitely been evident in Latvia, where nowadays two-thirds of the population reside in apartment buildings—the highest ratio in Europe. For many, apartment living constitutes the most common experience of architecture. 

During a 100-year long existence of the Latvian state it has been subjected to several mutually incompatible ideologies, and for each of them apartment living has served as a means of reform. Having implemented both the best ideals of European social-democratic housing block design, as well as the advice from the World Bank in order to organise state-wide privatisation at different times, the sparsely populated landscape of Latvia is dotted with a variety of architectural answers to the question of how to live in close proximity to one another.

The exhibition is organised in four independent sections: Distance portrays proximities between individual spheres that emerge as a consequence of demographic shifts; Promise looks at the apartment building as a political project; Warmth explores the relation between energy consumption, geopolitics, and collective decision making; Self deals with the individual apartment as a subject of private property, and the limitations of it. The research is presented through conceptual models, archival materials and a photography series depicting the multitude of apartment buildings found in Latvia today. This is accompanied by two books, in English and in Latvian, opening up the topic for further study.

Exhibition curators: Matīss Groskaufmanis, Gundega Laiviņa, Evelīna Ozola, Anda Skrējāne
Photography: Reinis Hofmanis
Exhibitors: Ivars Drulle, Mārtiņš Dušelis, Matīss Groskaufmanis, Reinis Hofmanis, Evelīna Ozola, Dita Pāne, Anda Skrējāne, Charlotte Spichalsky, Daria Melnikova
Commissioner: Jānis Dripe
Production: New Theatre Institute of Latvia