Zaha Hadid Architects’s “Arum” installation at the 2012 Venice Biennale is an homage to Russian Suprematism. It is inspired by Frei Otto’s work which paved the way for material-structural form-finding processes. The pleated metal structure is an affirmative response to David Chipperfield’s premise of the Biennale that stresses the importance of continuity in the history of architectural research. This year’s Biennale theme “Common Ground” aims to show the cumulative power of architectural research and the historical lineage that unifies the discipline.

The installation is situated at the Corderie of the Arsenale and includes models related to the work of Frei Otto, Felix Candela, Heinz Isler. In this aspect the firm has able to expose visitors to the inspiration and research from modern architects that can be found on ZHA’s contemporary works.

Description from the architects:

“In our installation and exhibition at the Biennale we want to show that – apart from the dialogue with the work of contemporary competitors that existed all along – our recent work connects to a rather different historical strand of research. The more our design research and work evolved on the basis of algorithmic form generation, the more we learned to appreciate the work of pioneers like Frei Otto who had achieved the most elegant designs on the basis of material-structural form-finding processes. From Frei Otto we learned how the richness, organic coherence and fluidity of the forms and spaces we desire could emerge rationally from an intricate balance of forces. We expanded Frei Otto’s method to include environmental as well as structural logics, and we moved from material to computational simulations.

One particular area of research we would like to explore with our installation is the domain of light – weight shells in combination with tensile structures. We have already designed a number of complex shells as well as some tensile structures. Here, for the first time, we would like to integrate these two worlds. The Arum shell is an installation made from pleated metal. We will surround the installation with the documentation of our research, including key reference projects of the pre- eminent precursors in this line of research.”



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