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Pavilion success Swiss ‘house tour’ wins top prize at Venice architecture Biennale

Alain Berset at the Swiss Pavilion in Venice

Swiss President Alain Berset makes a big impression at the Swiss Pavilion in Venice


The Swiss Pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice has been awarded the Golden Lion for the first time. Corresponding to this year’s theme, “Freespace”, the pavilion presents what appears to be an empty flat. 

Svizzera 240: House Tourexternal link focuses on “the unfurnished interior of contemporary housing by celebrating a peculiar form of architectural representation, the house tour”, according to Pro Helvetia, the Swiss Arts Council. 

Visitors to the pavilion, designed by architects Alessandro Bosshard, Li Tavor, Matthew van der Ploeg and Ani Vihervaara, are invited to take a house tour of the flat. “Interior scenes are constructed at a range of different scales and spliced together, creating a labyrinthine sequence of interior perspectives,” Pro Helvetia says. 

The 240 in the pavilion’s title refers to 240cm, which is considered the optimal height for a living room. 

Alain Berset, who holds the rotating Swiss presidency this year, visited the Swiss Pavilion on Friday and said the house tour posed aesthetic and social questions. “It attempts to hold on for a moment to the constantly vanishing boundary between the private and the public,” he said in his opening speech. 

Reacting to news of the award on Saturday, Berset said the Golden Lion was an “extraordinary success for the team of young architects and at the same time it underlines the world-class quality of Swiss architecture”. 

The 16th International Architecture Exhibitionexternal link, organised by the Venice Biennale, exhibition opened on Saturday and runs until November 25.

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