Venice Biennale 2012

By Dele Adeyemo
Director and Co-founder  P i d g i n P e r f e c t

Being asked to represent our country for the Venice Architecture Biennale was a tremendous honour and responsibility. It was a pleasure to work under project director Jonathan Charley and with the project partners, the Scottish Government, British Council Scotland, Creative Scotland, as well as the other Scottish practices, Do Architecture, Gras and Stone Opera who were all incredibly supportive.

When starting the project we quickly realised that staying true to principles of participative practice and meaningful community engagement was going to be a real challenge in a city where we didn’t know anyone or even speak the language. We were however utterly determined to respond to the theme of the 2012 Biennale, Common Ground, in the most direct way possible and engage with the communities of Castello who exist within the midst of the international audience visiting the festival’s main attractions, the Arsenale and Giardini. Our local partner the Gervasuti Foundation was essential to us being able to forge relationships with these communities.

Pidgin Perfect’s project took the form of ‘A Play in Three Acts’. The first act ‘Tour Della Biennale’, was a guided tour of the Giardini. This was the prelude to our principal event, ‘Banchetto’, an open air theatrical evening of dinner and discussion. The final act, ‘Esposizione’, provided one last celebration for the project team and local residents in the Scotland + Venice collective exhibition. The most beautiful moments came on the night of our principal event Banchetto, as we enjoyed our locally prepared traditional Venetian meal, and were treated to spontaneous renditions of old songs, enigmatic speeches and masterly storytelling.

We had a wonderful time with our new Venetian friends who we found to be tremendously warm, open and charismatic. Their oral traditions, the slow pace of life and genuine community spirit are incredible examples of all that continues to inspire our approach to architecture.

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Photography - top image © Murdo McDermid

Photography - lower images © Gilmar Ribeiro