If ‘Common Ground’, the theme of the Biennale, can be interpreted as a call for the wholesale revaluation of a discipline that has in some sense ‘lost its way’, then it is also a call for a re-analysis, even a re-establishment, of first principles. As such it is perhaps unsurprising that that most basic and originating of architectural units, the home, is an emphasis that runs through two of the most carefully considered national pavilions, the Canadian and the Japanese.
The theme of this year’s Biennale is partly a plea to an industry that has yet to find an effective response to a global downturn in which the failures of its product could be seen as both cause and symptom. Each story in the news is a local riff on an international problem. There are 100,000 new apartment blocks with no occupants in Chenggong, the Chinese government surprised that its penchant for development through instant urbanization isn’t matched by the population’s desire to live in a ghost town of concrete extrusions. Likewise, the American construction industry is yet to recognize that the single family home is no longer what is publically desirable or economically sustainable, despite the swathes of foreclosed homes that lie abandoned across the country.