São Paulo Biennial

São Paulo Biennial2014

Art Exhibition Design

Oren is the head architect and co-curator for the 31st addition of the Sao Paulo Biennial, opened September 2014. The Sao Paulo Biennial was founded in 1951 and is taking place in Oscar Niemeyer’s landmark biennial pavilion with exhibition spaces spanning over 30,000 square meters. The most noticeable aspect of this year’s event is that Niemeyer’s Pavilion is divided into distinct architectural areas: the Park, Ramp and Columns. These parts separate and connect the whole, in a way that is intended to articulate the total experience of the its visitors. Our architectural process began with two presuppositions: Firstly, the building is simply too big, and needed to be articulated in order to construct a coherent basis for the exhibition. Secondly, the Biennial needed a rich and flexible ground into which artistic projects in the making could be embedded. The two objectives resulted in the creation of three complimenting architectural base layers.

On the ground floor, the Park area exploited its existing transparency and its location between the public park and the art exhibition to shape a place for social interaction. Its many entrances were kept open as an invitation to engage with the 31st Bienal before choosing to go through the turnstiles. The wooden plataforma is designed to host spontaneous and organised communities engaged in various gatherings, conversations, lectures or performances. To the east of the Park area, the three floors of the Ramp area crystallised around the impressive void and concentric ramp. Reminiscent of an eighteenth-century opera house, this is identifiable as a place for a singular vertical event, with encounters that are constantly in dialogue and echo across from one work to another. The exhibition in the Ramp area was conceived with the idea of simultaneity. Through sound and vision, the three floors are experienced at one time.Lastly, stretching for more than 120 metres at the western end of the second floor is the Columns area: an enormously deep space where a grid of columns stands out. This area confronts the visitor with a different experience of engagement. By moving from the exposed face of the building’s façade into the dark heart of the enclosed space, the visitor comes across twenty-nine individual cells and niches. It is also a journey between light and dark (natural and projected) where each visitor is likely to find a different path and hence a singular experience. Visit the 31st Biennial’s Flickr page here.