DuFour's Design is a Finalist for Romanian Pavilion at Venice Biennale

a room with an atrium ceiling, a wall displaying an abandoned industrial site, a large rectangular stone planter, and a woman seated on a stone bench
Drawing on timber construction details, the new footprint of the Văcăreşti monastery is reinterpreted as a large masa (table) forming a central garden. rendering / provided
trees and wetland bordered by an urban skyline
A view of Văcăreşti Nature Park in Bucharest. photo / Adrian Catu
earthworks and trees in a rural plain
Remains of the hydrological project begun by the government of Nicolae Ceauşescu. photo / Adrian Catu
drawing of an oblong shaped exhibition space
An axonometric drawing indicates the placement of the masa and photographs that contextualize the park within the city. rendering / provided
Drawing on timber construction details, the new footprint of the Văcăreşti monastery is reinterpreted as a large masa (table) forming a central garden. rendering / provided A view of Văcăreşti Nature Park in Bucharest. photo / Adrian Catu Remains of the hydrological project begun by the government of Nicolae Ceauşescu. photo / Adrian Catu An axonometric drawing indicates the placement of the masa and photographs that contextualize the park within the city. rendering / provided
News
February 18, 2020

In a national competition for the design of the Romanian National Pavilion at the 2020 Venice Biennale of Architecture, the Union of Architects in Romania awarded second place to the entry by Tao DuFour and five collaborators. DuFour, whose work explores the significance of the phenomenological tradition for descriptions of spatial and environmental experience, is an assistant professor in the Department of Architecture at AAP.

Together at the Table | Împreună La Masă: Văcăreşti Park as Intergenerational Commons was honored at a ceremony in January at the Union of Architects of Romania headquarters in Bucharest. The proposal will be exhibited in the New Gallery of the Romanian Institute of Culture and Humanistic Research (IRCCU) in Venice this fall.

Together at the Table was designed and coordinated by DuFour and Iulia Stătică, the Marie Curie Research Fellow at the University College London Bartlett School of Architecture. The interdisciplinary team also included AAP alumnus Nicolas Azel (M.L.A./M.R.P. '16), a systems designer at evolveEA; Romanian photographer Adrian Catu; Romanian visual artist Claudia Mandi; and graphic designer Valeriya Klets of Optima Italia S.p.A., in Rome. The team was also assisted by Cornell landscape architecture alumna Marantha Dawkins '14, of Carnegie Mellon University, and AAP architecture student Eda Begum Birol (B.Arch. '20).

According to a press release, DuFour's proposal asks, "How will we live together with one another, with ruptures and discontinuities, with past and future infrastructures and generations?"

The question springs from the history of Văcăreşti Nature Park in Bucharest — "an example of a ruined post-communist landscape, whose afterlife has emerged as an ecological terrain," according to the press release. The 18th-century Văcăreşti Monastery was one of the largest centers for culture in Southeastern Europe. In the late 19th century, it was used as a prison, and in 1986 the government of Nicolae Ceauşescu demolished it along with hundreds of nearby houses for a massive hydrological project intended to stem city flooding. That project was abandoned following the Romanian Revolution in 1989, and now it is a 190-hectare wetland constituting one of the most significant natural ecosystems in Europe.

Through a weaving together of materialities, significances, imaginaries, and histories in the space of the pavilion, the proposal makes the masă or "table" at its center "a metaphorical and experiential articulation of Văcăreşti Park . . . illuminating ways people have lived and will live together."

"Nature becomes in our proposal a metaphor and, at the same time, an allegory of the city in which appropriation of the given infrastructures transforms them into spatial horizons that open possibilities for living together," say the designers.

Originally scheduled to open May 23, the Venice Biennale of Architecture will be held August 29 through November 29.

By Patti Witten

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