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ARQ (Santiago)

versión On-line ISSN 0717-6996

ARQ (Santiago)  no.94 Santiago dic. 2016 

Works & projects

Unfolding Pavilion: Curated Archives. Casa alle Zattere, 26-31 May 2016, Venice, Italy.

Davide Tommaso Ferrando 1   *  

Daniel Tudor Munteanu 2   **  

1 Profesor, Politecnico di Torino, Turín, Italia.

2 OfHouses, Suceava, Rumania.


How to get a place to stage an exhibition when the Venice Biennale is opening and prices are virtually unachievable? In this project, a small apartment leased by Airbnb is transformed into a gallery during the day to become at dusk a place to spend the night. Thus, not only the logic of 'sharing economy' is hacked, but it also opens new imaginaries on the possibilities of domestic space.

Keywords: exhibition; temporary; hacking; Airbnb; Venice

How to organize an architecture exhibition in Venice, one of the most expensive cities in the world, during the period in which the prices of its galleries skyrocket due to high and concentrated demand, with a budget of only 2,000 euros and no institutional support?

In January 2016 we decided to present, on the occasion of the Biennale, a physical and virtual platform where to bring to the fore and discuss the growing agency in the construction of contemporary architectural discourse of a new generation of online editorial projects, which we call Curated Archives. With the term 'curated archives', we indicate constantly updated collections of digital images sharing one or more themes in common, which are usually based on social platforms such as Tumblr, Facebook or Instagram, and mostly curated pro bono by individuals or small groups of self-proclaimed editors

With the theme already in mind, the main problem became the location, as we had to find an alternative and less expensive way to host an exhibition than to rent a gallery. It is for this reason that we turned to Airbnb in search of domestic spaces that could be temporarily converted in exhibition venues.

After some research, we found out that a small and cheap flat was available in the Casa alle Zattere (Figure 1): a 1950s apartment building on the Giudecca Canal, designed by the Milanese architect Ignazio Gardella. Although this private condominium is very well known among Italian architects, few (if any) have ever had the chance to visit the building from the inside. To open it up to the public for the first time, and to make it a fundamental part of the exhibition, immediately became the core of our project.

(c) Ana Amado

Figure 1: View of the Casa alle Zattere from the vaporetto. 

Once the location was secured, we thoroughly documented the Casa alle Zattere, in order to create its first public comprehensive bibliography. We then visited the hosting space (Figure 2), carefully surveying and redrawing it (Figure 3). Finally, we sent all the collected material to the invited contributors - architects that are actively and successfully working on 'curated archives' - asking them to illustrate the core concepts of their editorial projects by means of a site-specific object/installation, capable of reacting to both the Casa alle Zattere and the little apartment that was going to be occupied by the Unfolding Pavilion.

(c) Davide Tommaso Ferrando

Figure 2: View of the living room of the apartment at the Casa alle Zattere. 

Concept by Daniel Tudor Munteanu. Drawing by Volumetrica (Magda Vieriu, Octavian Hrebenciuc)

Figure 3: Unfolded drawing of the exhibition space 

The call resulted in a collection of very diverse objects: from a forex chandelier (Figure 4), to a plastic bath curtain (Figure 5), from a set of twenty pamphlets (Figure 6) to two collages printed on plexiglass sheets (Figure 7). Our intention was to force the authors, who are used to working with digital images, to prove their skills outside of their comfort zone. In the meantime, we built up the Unfolding Pavilion website, which now works as the permanent archive of the exhibition.

(c) Andrea Avezzù

Figure 4: Davide Trabucco (Conformi), Versus. 

(c) Andrea Avezzù

Figure 5: Michael Abrahamson (Fuck Yeah Brutalism), FYB Housewares ver. 2.1 (Bilderatlas). 

(c) Andrea Avezzù

Figure 6: Andrew Kovacs (Archive of Affinities), Making Architecture from Architecture. 

(c) Andrea Avezzù

Figure 7: Luca Galofaro, Frammenti di un Atlante dell'Immaginazione (Fragments of an Atlas of Imagination). 

One week before the opening of the Biennale, we drove to Venice in order to verify the capacity of the apartment to be converted in a proper exhibition space (Figure 8). We knew this was going to be the most delicate part of the process, as we had to confront ourselves with unorthodox problems that had to be resolved in unorthodox ways.

(c) Davide Tommaso Ferrando

Figure 8: Mounting up the exhibition for the first time. 

First of all, we had to hide the existing (hideous!) furniture, so we stashed most of it inside of the kitchen (Figure 9), which remained closed and inaccessible to the public during the whole exhibition period (although we maintained enough space for us to cook meals and make coffee). What couldn't be removed was arranged in the living room and covered with cuts of white textile, providing a neutral support for the exhibited works (Figure 10).

(c) Davide Tommaso Ferrando

Figure 9: The kitchen transformed in warehouse. 

(c) Andrea Avezzù

Figure 10: View of the main 

room (former living room) From left to right: Cristian Valenzuela Pinto (Deseopolis), Memory Retention Devices; Davide Trabucco (Confórmi), Versus; Fabio Alessandro Fusco (faf), Analogous Venice; Mariabruna Fabrizi and Fosco Lucarelli (SOCKS), SOCKS: A Portable Musem; Volumetrica, Pillow; Fala Atelier, Giulio's Airbnb Apartment.

A second problem was that, if we wanted to stay within the 2,000 euros budget, we couldn't afford accommodation, so we needed to find a way to sleep inside of the pavilion as well. As a solution, we vertically stored the existing mattresses inside of the bedroom's wardrobe (Figure 11), took them out every evening after closing time and placed them among the works, therefore temporarily converting the Unfolding Pavilion in a hybrid of exhibition & domestic space (Figure 12).

(c) Davide Tommaso Ferrando

Figure 11: The mattresses in the bedroom wardrobe. 

(c) Davide Tommaso Ferrando

Figure 12: The bedroom at night, with a mattress on the ground, among the exhibited works.  

A third issue was providing ourselves with some ad-hoc lights for the illumination of the works, as the existing lamps were inadequate for the task. By assembling in an unconventional way different pieces of hardware from IKEA and Le Roy Merlin, we managed to produce an original set of orientable lights that were cheaper than the cheapest of the similar options available in both stores (Figure 13).

(c) Ana Amado

Figure 13: View of the bedroom. Front: Daniel Tudor Munteanu (OfHouses), Face of the House. Back: Volumetrica, Curtain 

The fourth and last challenge was that right after building up the exhibition, we had to dismount it and bring the apartment back to its original state, as a German couple had already booked it on Airbnb for the days preceding the vernissage. We also needed a safe place where to store all the works, as we had no time to remove them from the apartment. Once more, we recurred to the wardrobe of the sleeping room, stacking the whole Unfolding Pavilion inside of it (Figure 14) and bringing the key away with us during the following days. In the morning of May 26th we returned to the Casa alle Zattere, unlocked the wardrobe, hid the furniture, mounted everything up again and let the exhibition begin.

(c) Davide Tommaso Ferrando

Figure 14: The whole Unfolding Pavilion stacked inside of the bedroom's wardrobe. 

Quite interestingly, once it was officially opened, the Unfolding Pavilion started to 'behave' in a way that we didn't expect, as its domestic environment conditioned the public into being 'guests' more than 'visitors'. They didn't just pass by: they stopped, smoked on the balcony, enjoyed our bathroom, drank a coffee on the couch, read our original 1958 copy of Casabella with the first publication of the Casa... They took their shoes off, sat on the floor and socialized, sometimes until late night. They did, because they found an informal and relaxed place where to do what architects really want to do when they attend the Biennale: meet each other (Figure 15).

(c) Davide Tommaso Ferrando

Figure 15: Casual encounters and informal debates in the main room

While working on it, we realized that the Unfolding Pavilion is first of all a project about 'hacking'. We hacked the traditional system in which exhibitions are designed, organized and communicated. We hacked Facebook and Skype into our office, as we are based in different countries and never met in person before Venice. We hacked Airbnb into making a private house temporarily public. We hacked an apartment into a exhibition space and a kitchen into a warehouse. We hacked the experience of a pavilion into the experience of a home (Figure 16). We hacked Ikea and Le Roy Merlin (take that, Jaque!). And by doing all this, we showed that today the possibility to curate an exhibition is just one step away, if one has the capacity to expand his/her imaginary to the point that established practices disappear, leaving space to alternative ways of disposing of reality.

(c) Davide Tommaso Ferrando

Figure 16: Last night dining in the main room of the pavilion. 

Figura 17: Unfolded plans. Published scale 1: 200. Legend: 1. Michael Abrahamson Fuck Yeah Brutalism; 2. Fala Atelier; 3. Mariabruna Fabrizi + Fosco Lucarelli Socks; 4. Fabio Alessandro Fusco FAF; 5. Luca Galorafo The Imagelist; 6. Andrew Kovacs Archive of Affinities; 7. Daniel Tudor Munteanu et al. OfHouses, (Antoine Predock Architect PC, Bogdan & Van Broeck CI-AA , Claesson Kiovisto Rune, Davide Tommaso Ferrando, Fala Atelier, Fosbury Architecture, Interval Projects, Andreas Lechner, BartLootsma & Gernot Baumann, Matheson Whiteley & Giles Reid, Graham McKay, Willie Miller, Monadnock, Office of Adrian Phiffer, OKOLO, Weltgebraus, Weyell Berner Architekten); 8. Beniamino Servino beniamino. Servino; 9. Matthew Sullivan AQQ Index; 10. Davide Trabucco Confórmi; 11. Cristian Valenzuela Pinto Deseopolis; 12. Volumetrica; 13. Shinichi Waki Wakiiii; 14. Charles Young Paperholm. 

Figure 18: Apartment plan. Published scale 1: 200. 


Unfolding Pavilion - Curated Archives


Daniel Tudor Munteanu, Davide Tommaso Ferrando


Daniel Tudor Munteanu, Davide Tommaso Ferrando, Ana Victoria Munteanu, Eliza Rabiniuc Mocanu, Magda Vieriu & Octavian Hrebenciuc, Chiara Buccolini & Anna Sanga, Alberto Sireci

Graphic design

Magda Vieriu & Octavian Hrebenciuc


Andrea Avezzù, Ana Amado, Sebastian Apostol


Daniel Tudor Munteanu, Davide Tommaso Ferrando, Graham McKay, Annamaria Ciabatta

* Davide Tommaso Ferrando Diploma in Architecture, Politecnico di Torino, 2005. Master in Advanced Architectural Design, Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid, 2012. Ph.D in Architecture and Building Design, Politecnico di Torino, 2012. Architecture critic, editor, curator and educator, particularly interested in the intersections between architecture, city and media. In 2016 he was co-curator of the first "Unfolding Pavilion" and scientific consultant for the "Meeting the Commons" section of the Italian Pavilion at the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale. His texts are published, among others, on Uncube (Berlin, 2016), Betonart (Istanbul, 2016), 1:100 (Buenos Aires, 2015), Azure (Toronto, 2015) and World Architecture (Beijing, 2013). Ferrando is University Assistant in the Department of Architectural Theory and History at the University of Innsbruck, and Adjunct Professor at the Politecnico di Torino.

** Daniel Tudor Munteanu Architect, Master in Architecture, Technical University Iasi, 2005. Daniel is the founder and editor of the research project 'OfHouses - a collection of old forgotten houses' ( Has exhibited at the 5th "Urbanism\Architecture Bi-city Biennale" in Shenzhen and has contributed to "OfficeUS", the U.S. Pavilion for the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale. His texts and graphic essays were published on San Rocco (Milan, 2014-2015), Log (New York, 2014), clog (New York, 2015) and Oase (Rotterdam, 2015). In 2015 he curated the "Aformal Academy/Pedagogical Infrastructure" chapter for the 6th Shenzhen "Urbanism\Architecture Bi-city Biennale" and contributed to the "The State of the Art of Architecture" editorial project for the Chicago Architecture Biennale. In 2016 he was the co-curator of the first "Unfolding Pavilion" at the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale.

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