‘Lucius Burckhardt and Cedric Price – A stroll through a fun palace’ is a multi-faceted project by Hans Ulrich Obrist to be presented by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia at the Swiss Pavilion in the Giardini from 7 June to 23 November 2014 for the Venice Biennale.

The exhibition will revisit the recent past of architecture and reflecting on its future in the 21st century, through retrospectives of Lucius Burckhardt (1925–2003) andCedric Price (1934–2003), two of the most visionary thinkers of the 20th century, who redefined architecture as revolving around people, space and performance.

As Hans Ulrich Obrist stated, “we often invent the future with elements from the past. Lucius Burckhardt and Cedric Price were two great visionaries whose work resonates and inspires new generations in the 21st century. At the core of both their work is a practice of drawing. At the centre of the project will be the archives of drawings of Cedric and Lucius, of which different aspects will be revealed throughout the Biennale. ‘A stroll through a fun palace’ in collaboration with architects and artists will present a laboratory where the ideas of Cedric and Lucius can be toolboxes to invent the future.”

Lucius Burckhardt was a Swiss political economist, sociologist, art historian and planning theorist, known as founding father of ‘strollology’ – his science of the walk. He pioneered an interdisciplinary analysis of man-made environments, discussing both the visible and invisible aspects of our cities, landscapes, political processes and social relations, as well as the long-term effects of design and planning decisions.

Cedric Price was guided by a fundamental belief that architecture must ‘enable people to think the unthinkable’. His project Fun Palace (1960–61), conceived as a ‘laboratory of fun’ and ‘university of the streets’, though never realised, established him as one of the UK’s most innovative and thought-provoking architects.

Both Burckhardt and Price critiqued the traditional tertiary education system and were interested in rethinking the basic concept of a university. Following their revolutionary teaching methods, Obrist’s ‘A stroll through a fun palace’ radically re-approaches the idea of the national pavilion, reconceiving it as a site for cross-disciplinary, interactive, international engagement. Acknowledging that it is not possible to present the complex practices of Burckhardt and Price through a static display of drawings, the exhibition aims for visitors to encounter the architects’ archives performatively.

The display on Lucius Burckhardt is co-curated by architects Herzog & de Meuron, in collaboration with the Lucius & Annemarie Burckhardt Foundation and Martin Schmitz Verlag, whilst the temporary archive of Cedric Price is co-curated by Mirko Zardini, director of the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA). To present the temporary archives, Herzog & de Meuron have devised a site-specific system located in the graphic room of the Swiss Pavilion, aiming to create a new system of knowledge and ideas. Visible through the glass walls but not accessible to the public, it is to be conceived as an object on display.

The space will be programmed according to a time-based dramaturgy, creating a changing mise-en-scène and an exhibition in constant motion. As the invention of new institutional forms was essential to Price and Burckhardt, the exhibition will also theoretically reflect on this endeavor. The opening days will feature a series of discussions on architecture, landscape design and modes of display. Several times a day Dorothea von Hantelmann will present vignettes on the past, present and future function of art institutions. The exhibition will also include contributions byDominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Philippe Parreno, Asad Raza and Tino Sehgal, whilst other contemporary artists and architects, such as Dan Graham, Liam Gillick and Koo Jeong-a, will present their homages to Burckhardt and Price.

Following Burckhardt’s and Price’s critique of the traditional university system, ‘A stroll through a fun palace’ will function as an architectural school under the leadership of Italian architect Stefano Boeri with Lorenza Baroncelli and Pierpaolo Tamburelli. It will welcome and connect students in a worldwide network of thinkers, schools and researchers, enabling them to reflect on how the contemporary landscape is changing. This network will produce a digital daily and a weekly print magazine titled The Tomorrow.

Atelier Bow-Wow will turn the courtyard of the Swiss Pavilion into a contemporary learning space inspired by the flexibility and innovation of Price’s airy structures, in which mobile furniture units will enable students and visitors to turn the space into an auditorium, library or studio as directed by their needs. Students are encouraged to consider the future of architecture through an engagement with Burckhardt’s and Price’s works and to question the current infrastructures for the production of knowledge within architectural institutions.

Special Event:

6 Jun, 5.30pm | Opening

  • Open:
    Saturday, 07 June 2014
  • Close:
    Sunday, 23 November 2014
  • Address:
    Giardini, Castello, 30122 Venezia
  • Phone:
    +41 44 267 71 71
  • Web:
    Swiss Pavilion
  • Photo credits:
    1. Lucius Burckhardt: Das Zebra streifen, 1993, photo by Angela Siever; 2. Cedric Price: Fun Palace Interior perspective, 1964, Cedric Price fonds, Canadian Centre for Architecture (Montréal). Courtesy of Swiss Arts Council

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