Zaha Hadid Architects’ Arum Installation at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2012

This year’s Venice Architecture Biennale theme ‘Common Ground’ intends to show how the work of the major protagonists of contemporary architecture (often regarded as independent individual creations) is in fact based on historical lineages of collective research. This is also true of the work of Zaha Hadid Architects, as it is well known that the Iraqi architect’s early work was initially inspired by Russian Suprematism.

In Hadid’s ‘Arum Installation’ and exhibition at the Biennale, the London-based architectural practice wanted to show that (apart from the dialogue with the work of contemporary competitors that existed all along) their recent work connects to a rather different historical strand of research. The more their design research and work evolved on the basis of algorithmic form generation, the more they learned to appreciate the work of pioneers like Frei Otto who had achieved elegant designs on the basis of material-structural form-finding processes.

From Frei Otto, Zaha Hadid Architects learnt how the richness, organic coherence and fluidity of forms and spaces could emerge rationally from an intricate balance of forces. Furthermore, they expanded Frei Otto’s method to include environmental as well as structural logics, and moved from material to computational simulations.

One particular area of research intended to be explored with the ‘Arum Installation’ is the domain of light by articulating weight shells in combination with tensile structures. The Arum shell is an installation made from pleated metal, surrounded by the documentation of its research, including key reference projects of the preeminent precursors in this line of research. Alongside the installation and documentation, the architects have chosen to display works by Frei Otto, Felix Candela, Heinz Isler, and Philippe Block.

Zaha Hadid Architects’ ‘Arum Installation’ will be on public display until 25 November at Room 1.9, Corderie dell’ Arsenale.