Since 1980, the Venice Biennale of Architecture has brought together projects by over 50 participating nations, most of whom exhibit the works in their fixed pavilions in either the Giardini or Arsenale (both located in Castello). The Biennale also always presents an exhibition organized by a selected curator who proposes a framework for looking at the current state of the field.
The curator of the 2012 Venice Biennale of Architecture, David Chipperfield, decided on the theme "Common Ground" as a way to underline the fact that the culture of architecture crosses national boundaries and unites a diversity of ideas under its name. Chipperfield explains that he chose this theme in order “to encourage my colleagues to react against the prevalent professional and cultural tendencies of our time that place such emphasis on individual and isolated actions. I encouraged them instead to demonstrate the importance of influence and of the continuity of cultural endeavour, to illustrate common and shared ideas that form the basis of an architectural culture".
Indeed, walking around the 2012 Biennale of Architecture, one becomes almost immediately aware that the projects presented highlight inter-cultural connections and a strong sense of civil responsibility on the part for the architects. In this day and age, that's a feat that is anything but "common". Exceptional would be more like it.
Every Biennale, a jury selects a winner for the presitigious Golden Lion award. This year, the Golden Lion for Best National Participation went to Japan for their exhibition entitled "Architecture Possible Here? Home-for-All", which addressed rebuilding areas that were destroyed by the tsunami last year. Other highlights are the American Pavilion with their exhibition "Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good" and the Russian Pavilion with their "i-city", a digital interactive installation.
The Venice Biennale of Architecture is open to the public from August 29 - November 25, 2012 from 10 AM - 6 PM, Tuesdays through Sundays (closed Mondays). Adult tickets cost 20 euros, which give the ticket holder one pass for each of the main locations that can be used on different days.