Opening of the Lebanese Pavilion 2021 of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia “A Roof for Silence” a project by Hala Wardé

In collaboration with Etel Adnan and Fouad Elkoury

With the participation of Alain Fleischer – Le Fresnoy and Soundwalk Collective

In tribute to Paul Virilio

The Lebanese Pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, curated by Hala Wardé, the architect and founder of HW Architecture, who realized the Louvre Abu Dhabi with Jean Nouvel, is pleased to announce its opening at the Magazzini del Sale on May 22.

A Live Instagram visit with Hala Wardé is taking place on Friday, May 21st at 2PM CET – 3PM Beirut Time @aroofforsilence

Selected in the first public competition launched by the Lebanese authorities to represent Lebanon, Hala Wardé’s project was chosen by a committee of experts appointed by the Ministry of Culture and the Federation of Lebanese Engineers and Architects, presided by Jad Tabet.

“The Lebanese Pavilion at the 17th Venice Biennale of Architecture is the completion of a long journey, notably marked by paradox and uncertainty. With the uprising of Lebanese youth, which spread across the country, the theme of the Biennale “How will we live together” took on a new meaning. The metaphor of the roof that shelters everyone, while avoiding that the expression of the plurality of belonging ends in cacophony, this metaphor became even more relevant.

In the face of the tragedy that has struck us, leaving behind hundreds of dead and missing, thousands injured and tens of thousands displaced, we must absolutely demand the right to silence and recollection under a protective roof.”

Jad Tabet

Echoing the question “How will we live together?” as raised by Hashim Sarkis, curator of this 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, Hala Wardé tackles the issue of coexistence through a questioning of the spaces of silence, by putting into dialogue architecture, painting, music, poetry, video and photography.

“Why not think about places in relation to their potential as voids rather than as solids? How can we fight fear of emptiness in architecture? How can we imagine forms that generate places of silence and contemplation?”

Hala Wardé

The Lebanese Pavilion is conceived as a musical sheet, finding resonance between disciplines, shapes and periods to provoke the sensory experience of a thought, articulated around the notions of emptiness and silence, as temporal and spatial conditions of architecture.

Developed as a manifesto for a new form of architecture, Hala Wardé’s project is based on the cryptic shapes of a group of sixteen olive trees that are a thousand years old in Lebanon. These legendary trees, whose hollows are home to various species, are the tutelary figure of the Lebanese Pavilion. They are places of recollection or gathering, where peasants have convened for generations to decide on village affairs or to celebrate weddings.

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The architectural arrangement of the Lebanese Pavilion is integrated into the space of the Magazzino del Sale following a rigorous geometry and rhythm. It unfolds in four stages:

On an introductory wall, Paul Virilio’s Antiforms, an exploration of space and absent matter, are set against photogrammetric records of thousand-year-old trees and black and white photographic prints of olive trees in Lebanon by Lebanese photographer Fouad Elkoury.

On the ground, a trail of glass. Imprints or fractal traces of various forms: that of the impact of the Beirut blast in August 2020, a form of emptiness that joins that of the Antiforms or the large-scale graphic prints of the trees’ cavities.

As the visitors move through the exhibition, they are led to a triptych projection of 16 olive trees of Lebanon that are a thousand years old. Filmed in the darkness of the night by Alain Fleischer, filmmaker, photographer and visual artist, these olive trees offer a sensory experience of emptiness and light, accompanied by a musical creation by the sound artists Soundwalk Collective.

Walking through these images, visitors are led into the central room: an octagonal floor plan, but with a cylindrical interior space, where the 16 canvases of Etel Adnan’s poem-in-painting Olivéa: Hommage à la déesse de l’olivier are on display. The artist does not show a particular olive tree but rather the feeling inspired by this legendary tree that has accompanied the Mediterranean civilizations. Crowned with a semi-spherical roof bordered by light, this space embodies the possibility of an “essential” place: A Roof for Silence.  

Hala Wardé

Born in Lebanon in 1965, Hala Wardé trained as an architect at the Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris where she studied with Paul Virilio, Bernard Tschumi and Jean Nouvel, with whom she worked for over 20 years. In 2008, she established HW architecture, her own architectural practice, and continued collaborating with Ateliers Jean Nouvel in the framework of a privileged partnership. Hala Wardé was in charge of the One New Change office and retail project in London, delivered in 2010, and the Louvre Abu Dhabi landmark museum which she led from inception in 2006 through to delivery in 2017. In 2016, Hala Wardé won the architectural competition for BeMA (Beirut Museum of Art), a future landmark museum in the Lebanese capital. In 2018, her studio was selected to design “Le Mirabeau” in the maritime quarter of Marseille, currently under construction. In 2019, she wins together with Jean Nouvel the competition for the Sharaan resort located near by the historical site of Al Ula in Saudi Arabia. In parallel, Hala Wardé collaborates regularly with artists, for site-specific interventions in relation to the built environments, such as Guiseppe Penone, Nan Goldin or Etel Adnan.

Commissioner:

Jad Tabet

Architect and curator:

Hala Wardé

Exhibited Works:

Antiformes Paul Virilio, oil on canvas, 1961

Hommage à la Déesse Olivéa Etel Adnan, oil on canvas, 2019

The Olive Trees of Bchaaleh Fouad Elkoury, photographs, 2020

Métamorphoses Hala Wardé & Jeremy Maxwell Wintrebert, 2021

Les oliviers, piliers du temps Alain Fleischer, film 8’, 2020

Falling into time Soundwalk collective, musical composition, 2020

Magazzini del Sale, architect Alvise Pigazzi, 15th century

Practical Information:

Lebanese Pavilion

17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia

Maggazino del Sale 5 (Zattere)

Dorsoduro, 262, 30123 Venezia 

22nd May – 21st November 2021

Opening hours:

22 May – 31 July

11 am – 7 pm

Last admission: 6:45 pm

1 August > 21 November

10 am – 6 pm

Last admission: 5:45 pm

Closed on Mondays (except on 24 May, 6 September, 1 November)

@aroofforsilence

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