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Architect and journalist Cordula Rau
Cordula Rau says architecture isn't about building projectsImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Longing drives creativity

August 31, 2010

The Venice Biennale is one of Europe's most significant international architecture exhibitions. This year, the German pavilion gets to the root of the creative impulse that drives every architect: namely, desire.


With the overarching theme "People meet in architecture," the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale is taking a personal approach. The German pavilion, designed this year by the Munich architecture firm Die walVerwandtschaften, goes a step further and aims to get inside the heads - and the hearts - of architects.

Deutsche Welle spoke with Cordula Rau of the firm Die walVerwandschaften about how she and her team of 150 architects, artists and students implemented their motto: "Longing - Another portrait of the sensitivity of contemporary architecture."

Deutsche Welle: What does "longing" mean to you?

Cordula Rau: For us, longing is a feeling, a point in the distance that you want to reach. Longing is the driving force for every creative person and the bottom line is that you want to realize the things that you wish for through a certain longing for them. However, longing is of course something that inevitably remains unfulfilled.

In Germany, longing is often associated with the past. If you look at Dresden and Hildesheim, for example, you get the impression that historical buildings are more in trend than modern architecture. But that's not what your motto is referring to, right?

No. For us, longing is an underlying part of every piece of architecture, regardless of how it looks. A sense of longing is also an essential part of modern architecture. And utopias and visions are always associated with a longing for something. Our exhibition is not about architecture that looks to the past.

A view inside the German pavilion at the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale
Going into the German pavilion is like peering into an architect's headImage: www.sehnsucht-biennale.de

The German contribution to the Venice Biennale is subtitled "Another portrait of the sensitivity of contemporary architecture." That sounds like you're trying to change something about the public's perception. Is that the case?

No. For us, it's important that we don't present architecture as a building project, and not as drawings, pictures of architecture or plans that precede the architecture. Rather, we want to research the ideas, the visions and utopias that architects have in their heads. That's was we want to represent in our pavilion.

What is there to see in the German pavilion?

The first exhibit is the pavilion itself. We've charged it with emotions by hanging up wall coverings, curtains, mirrored surfaces and lights. At the same time, our exhibition is a collection of architectonic longings from various architects in Germany, which we began when we were commissioned with designing the pavilion. It's a collection of drawings. We had asked the architects to sketch their personal architectonic longing. And these sketches are now displayed in the pavilion in wooden frames against a red wall. They represent the longings, the utopias, visions and ideas that the architects carry around with them.

What do such longings look like?

They're very different. They have a very personal connection, and some of them are quite intimate. Some sketches show butterflies, others show excrement. There are political statements, of course. You could almost see it as a bulletin board. Many address the over-abundance of building regulations or the issue of time - that there's not enough of it. Not having enough time is touched on in many of the sketches.

The Venice Architecture Biennale runs through November 21.

Interview: Klaus Gehrke (kjb)

Editor: Cyrus Farivar

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