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Asplund Pavilion

Concept design, detailed proposal, final proposal and building site supervision

Venezia, S. Giorgio Island

Asplund Pavilion was the introductory element to the first National Pavilion of the Holy See at the International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale 2018. It contains Asplund’s drawings for the Skogskapellet in Stockholm, which was the theme of the exhibition.

The element in its totality is intended to refer both to the stereometry of the supporting buildings designed by Asplund and Lewerentz for the cemetery, and to the theme and spatiality of the hut – shelter in nature. The idea, then, is a sort of domestic absolute which borrows from traditional Nordic woodwork, and in particular to the Stavkirke, as a reinterpreted vernacular lexicon. The pavilion – about 11.00 m long and 8.00 m high, is supported by 11 lamellar wood portals that define 10 bays. It is basically configured as a pitched roof with an emphasized vertical proportion, characterized by a continuous cladding in wooden shingles interrupted only by the presence of a series of symmetrical triangular skylights placed on both sides.

We conceived of the exhibition space as defined by the strong chromatic contrast between the dark wooden material of the external shingles and the light wood of the internal cladding, suitably illuminated by zenithal light made softer through a counter-shell shielding. The exhibition is integrated into the structure of the pavilion itself: an unicum defines the interior space and hosts, in the articulation of the thickness of the walls, the reproductions of Asplund’s drawings, texts and models. For this project ALPI developed a customized solution over a few months, by creating an experimental material for exterior cladding based on thick reconstituted wood, and then producing the 9.000 shingles used for the external surface.

The pattern of the surface generates a complex microstructure through the contrasts of light and shadow. Thus, it alludes to the multitude of the Nordic forest and gives the building a strong, timeless character.

The Asplund pavilion, together with the other artistic religious installations that were protagonists of the Vatican Chapels exhibition at the Venice Biennale of 2018, has recently been awarded a special status by the Cini Foundation, which holds the concession of the island, which will prolong their presence in situ indefinitely. These small artifacts have thus contributed to an initiative that gives the city of Venice an extraordinary park facing the lagoon, in a space which had long been forgotten.

Pontificium Consilium de Cultura

dimension: 33 mq
project: 2017-2018
completed: 2018

Matteo Sirinati
Chiara Dalla Valle
Alberto Zago (model)

Luigi Cocco

Federico Cedrone
Alessandra Chemollo

— 2018. Silver Medal for the 5th year of the Pontificate of His Holiness Pope Francesco

— 2021. Architect@Work exhibition 2021 Dusseldorf Messe DE

— Asplund pavilion, Interior Design n° n.14 ottobre 2018, pg. 153-155, Sandow, 2018 — Compasses – Vatican Chapels/Asplund pavilion, Compasses n° 028/2018, pg. 37-42, e.built srl, 2018 — The Vatican show off its spirit of competition, New York Times n° international edition May 26-27, 2018, pg. 18, 24, 2018 — Vatican Chapels, Casabella n° 884, pg. 110-111, Mondadori, 2018 — Vatican Chapels, Vatican Chapels, pg. 82-107, Mondadori Electa, 2018 — Vatican Chapels, Bauwelt n° 10.2018, pg. 48-51, Bauverlag BV GmbH, 2018 — Vatican Chapels/Asplund pavilion, Elle Decor archibook n° n.5/maggio 2018, pg. 24-25, Hearst Magazines Italia S.p.A., 2018

> PDF — details sheet