The 17th Venice Architecture Biennale was inaugurated on 22 May and will stay open through 21 November, presenting novel proposals for the architectural field. The theme is “How will we live together?” and the curator, Hashim Sarkis, invites architects to imagine spaces where people can live in generous coexistence and collaborate in addressing crises requiring global action.
The Swiss watchmaker Rolex once again sponsors the Biennale, its fourth time since 2014, and takes part in the exhibition through a pabellón Rolex de los Giardini. Its design presents a solid base, a delicate transparent structure, and a faceted enclosure that recalls a striated bevel, a distinctive aesthetic feature of some of the brand’s most iconic watches.
The exhibition shows a project of the Nigerian architect Mariam Kamara, who is under the tutelage of David Adjaye in the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, a program created to support young talents in architecture. Computer images, two models, and an assortment of videos present Kamara's scheme for a cultural center in the Nigerian capital, Niamey. Harnessing traditional building techniques, the project reflects the precision and sustainability essential to both architects and Rolex itself. Kamara is also present in the Venetian Arsenal, where she has an installation in the section ‘As Emerging Communities.’
On view as well in the Rolex Pavilion is the design for the renovation of the luxury watchmaker’s Italy headquarters, a work of the architecture office Onsitestudio, which has transformed a 19th-century construction into a contemporary building with an ecological focus. Taking care to maintain the connection between past and present, the scheme shows a reexamined emphasis on light, space, and the use of sustainable materials.
Over the years, for its own buildings, Rolex has welcomed innovative ideas from leading architects. Two of the most recent proposals pursuing the above-mentioned ecological line are for a tower harboring a sales and services center in Dallas, drawn up by Kengo Kuma, and a redevelopment of its general U.S. headquarters in New York, commissioned to David Chipperfield, curator of the 2012 Biennale.