Asked what he hoped to achieve as curator of this year's Venice Architecture Biennale, Aaron Betsky replied: "To astonish and amaze." He succeeds. "Out There: Architecture Beyond Building" (until Nov. 23; www.labiennale.org) opens in the Arsenal with a parade of "starchitect" installations visionary, fantastic creations that push the boundaries of architecture.
Frank Gehry's Ungapatchket, a wooden tower with curved panels covered in clay, is both a design for a contemporary Moscow hotel and a throwback to the plaster-and-wood molds used for the Statue of Liberty. It's a dramatic, back-to-basics statement by the maestro of high-tech spectacle. The Spanish studio of Guallart Architects takes the opposite approach, presenting a Hyperhabitat of household objects embedded with micro servers that digitally communicate with each other.
But whether sci-fi or low-tech, the future of architecture is still, it seems, about people. Landscape artist Kathryn Gustafson offers up Towards Paradise, a lush oasis that stands as an allegory for the human condition. "It's not a Utopia," explains Betsky. "It's a garden you can sit in. A concrete paradise." That, surely, is the ultimate architectural vision.
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