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Brief Published: 31 Aug 2012

Japan Awarded Golden Lion at Venice Architecture Biennale


As the 13th International Architecture Biennale in Venice opened its doors to the public yesterday, it announced Japan as the winner of this year’s Golden Lion for Best National Participation. It was awarded for the poignantly topical exhibition Architecture, Possible Here? Home-For-All.

Commissioned by Japanese architect Toyo Ito, the pavilion used this year’s core theme Common Ground (set by 2012 biennale director, British architect David Chipperfield) as a pragmatic platform for discussing how architecture can be a very real tool for soothing major crises and regenerating local community bonds.

Featuring work by architects Kumiko Inui, Sou Fujimoto and Akihisa Hirata, the exhibition focuses on the human cost of the devastation caused by the 2011 tsunami. The resulting project saw the group work with a local community to design a shared retreat-cum-community centre for those who had suffered in the disaster.

On the one hand, it communicated the value of blurring boundaries to find a common, practical space between amateurs and professionals to create meaningful architecture initiatives. On the other, it explored the larger theme of architecture returning to a place of civic duty – giving hope to all those around the globe who have suffered in similar disasters.

The humanitarian theme was echoed in Chipperfield’s own press conference statement: “This is an exhibition that wants to talk to the public, not just to architects. The common ground I’m interested in is not only the common ground within the profession, but the profession and society. The commune, the collective.”

The Architecture Biennale runs until November 25 2012. Watch out for our full coverage of the event, publishing on September 14.

Toyo Ito

Akihisa Hirata   

Sou Fujimoto

 Kumiko Inui

Architecture Biennale