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Venice Biennale 2014

A Clockwork Jerusalem

A Clockwork Jerusalem

For the British Pavilion exhibition this year we worked with FAT Architecture and Crimson Architectural Historians on the exhibition A Clockwork Jerusalem. 

2014 marks the 14th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia which for the first time runs for six months, from 7 June to 23 November 2014, with preview days on 5 and 6 June. 

The title of the Biennale is 'Fundamentals' and overall Director Rem Koolhaas called on national pavilions to respond to the theme 'Absorbing Modernity: 1914-2014'.

The Exhibition 

A Clockwork Jerusalem explores how the international influences of Modernism became mixed with long standing British sensibilities. It examines how traditions of the romantic, sublime and pastoral, as well as interests in technology and science fiction were absorbed to create a specifically British form of Modernism. 

The exhibition focusses on the mature flowering of British Modernism; the moment it was at its most ambitious socially, politically and architecturally, but which also witnessed its collapse. A variety of large scale projects offer insights into the way architecture was central to manufacturing a new vision of society at a scale inconceivable in today’s Britain. It explores how the modern future of Britain was built from an unlikely combination of interests and shows how these projects have changed our physical and imaginative landscapes.


The Curators

Founded by Sam Jacobs, Sean Griffiths and Charles Holland, FAT Architecture was conceived to develop architectural culture through design, research and teaching. FAT's work has been characterised by a highly conceptual approach, combining the practical demands of architecture with critical and provocative thinking.

Crimson Architectural Historians is a Rotterdam-based practice that functions as a hybrid planning, design and research facility. Since contributing to the planning for the extension of the railway and neighbourhood in Utrecht’s Leidse Rijn, the office has been involved in the production of numerous books and papers on urban planning.

The Pavilion Sponsors

The Vinyl Factory is an independent British company that works with artists
and creative individuals to produce and collaborate on limited edition
releases, shows, exhibitions and installation works. It is pioneering the development of new spaces in London to house creative and media industries. 180 The Strand will be the first building to house The Vinyl Factory’s innovative concept, the second will be on Brewer Street in Soho and the third in The Old Gillette building in Brentford all to open in 2015.

We also thank Arper for their generous support in providing the pavilion furniture. 

The Vinyl Factory | 180 The Strand

A Clockwork Jerusalem opens in Venice

 Photo Cristiano Corte

Photo Cristiano Corte

Graham Sheffield and Mark Wadhwa cutting the ribbon

Graham Sheffield and Mark Wadhwa cutting the ribbon
 Photo Cristiano Corte

Photo Cristiano Corte

 Photo Cristiano Corte

Photo Cristiano Corte

 Photo Cristiano Corte

Photo Cristiano Corte

5 June 2014
by Hannah Burgess

We're excited to announce that A Clockwork Jerusalem, our exhibition for the British Pavilion at the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale has officially opened.

In a special ceremony this afternoon, Vernissage guests gathered outside the Pavilion to toast the exhibition, which was introduced by the curators Sam Jacob and Wouter Vanstiphout, and official Pavilion commissioner Vicky Richardson. The ribbon was cut by Director of British Council Arts Graham Sheffield and Mark Wadhwa, founder of pavilion sponsors Vinyl Factory.

Outside the pavilion, visitors are greeted by a pair of Concrete Cows on loan from Milton Keynes – the last of the post-war British New Towns. Originally produced by artist Liz Leyh in 1978, shortly after Milton Keynes was established, the cows have become unofficial mascots of the town. Shipped to Venice for the Biennale, the Concrete Cows assume a formal position on either side of the entrance to the British Pavilion in the manner of Venetian lions.

The portico of the British Pavilion has been transformed into an "Electric Picturesque" landscape. Tree trunks installed from floor to ceiling interrupt the symmetry of the Neoclassical pavilion. Seen through the forest is an animated white LED galloping horse, representing a high-tech reworking of the Neolithic white horses carved into British hillsides.

The main room of the pavilion features a giant earth mound which references thousands of years of British architecture, from ancient burial mounds to the rubble of demolished slums, sculpted into mounds as the central landscape feature of idealistic projects in places such as Arnold Circus and Robin Hood Gardens.

Surrounding the mound is a panoramic narrative image that tells the story of British Modernism, referencing British visual and architectural culture: William Morris, Stanley Kubrick, David Hockey, Archigram and more. The eye of William Blake, author of the words to the famous poem Jerusalem, sits at the centre of the panorama, made up with a cog like a Droog from Stanley Kubrick's famous A Clockwork Orange.

In the rooms around the central installation, images, objects and artefacts tell the story of British Modernism from Stonehenge to council estates, from Ebenezer Howard to Cliff Richard, from ruins and destruction to rural fantasies. Large scale models show three of the exhibition's significant housing projects: Hulme, Thamesmead and Cumbernauld.

A Clockwork Jerusalem will be open to the public throughout the duration of the Biennale Architettura 2014, from 7th June to 23rd November 2014, with a press preview from 5th to 6th June.