Studio KO’s curation of the Uzbekistan Pavilion for the Venice Biennale is based on research, curiosity, workshopping, and experimenting with the senses. For over two years, the studio has worked alongside the Arts and Cultural Development Foundation, designing the Center for Contemporary Arts and their initiatives to restore and rehabilitate vernacular houses, transforming them into artist residencies. While exploring the 18th International Architecture Exhibition onsite in Venice, ArchDaily had the chance to speak with the founders of Studio KO, Karl Fournier, and Olivier Marty, curators of Uzbekistan National Pavilion. Their exhibition for this year’s theme, “The Laboratory of the Future,” focuses on the country’s rich heritage as a potential tool and inspiration for developing a more sustainable future.
The installation at La Biennale di Venezia 2023 is centered around two main workshops hosted by Studio KO in collaboration with 25 architecture students at Ajou University in Tashkent. The first workshop was the research arm, consisting of a trip to the ruins of the Qalas, an ancient pre-Islamic fortress. The students visited this labyrinth-like fortress to gain inspiration for the exhibition’s curation. The second workshop was focused on exploring the materiality of the local landscape, with a particular emphasis on brick making, fabrication, techniques, and types of finishes.
In the interview, the Studio KO founders explain that this process of workshopping these two elements is a type of laboratory. Furthermore, this methodology has encouraged discussions about art, culture, history, and experimentation. In their eyes, the pavilion is a result of this organic and collective effort. “Unbuild Together” aims to showcase the possibility of a future architecture that does not rely only on technological advancements but rather lies in learning from the past and creating a multi-layered modernity that encompasses a mixture of influences.
Architecture is not always thinking and explaining and justifying, but just feeling. The first thing that connects an architecture to your body is your touch.
–Olivier Marty, co-founder at Studio KO
In fact, the exhibition is designed to be simple and smaller in scale, experimenting with the idea of a future architecture that could be sustainable and less wasteful. Furthermore, the architects emphasize the importance of the sense of touch in their installation. The exhibition encourages a heightened sense of touch through the use of darkness and obscurity throughout the pavilion. This allows the visitor to leave behind preconceived notions of understanding, experiencing the space more viscerally.
When discussing the core of the project, Studio KO explains its long-lasting curiosity for the Uzbekistan region. Moreover, the founders express that they have become more well-informed as architects by studying the country’s culture, arts, cuisines, marketplaces, and landscapes. Furthermore, they stress on the idea of experimentation and the power of gathering to discuss these abstract concepts can have on the laboratory and the future at large. In conversation with the 18th International Architecture Exhibition curator, Lesley Lokko discusses how the biennale is an “open-ended process” where various actors react to the same idea in many ways. Moreover, she stresses the importance of exploring narratives that can open up new perspectives and understandings.
We invite you to check out ArchDaily’s comprehensive coverage of the Venice Architecture Biennale 2023.