Autodesk @ Venice Biennale: The Future of How Buildings Are Made

Categories: Architecture

One of the themes of this year’s Venice Biennale “Fundamentals” architecture exhibition is “The Elements of Architecture,” which explores the basic building blocks of architecture and how those components assemble to create a building.  In two projects at the Biennale, Autodesk is extending this theme by exploring the future of how buildings are made. 

The company is sponsoring architectural exhibits at the US and Austrian pavilions with two different perspectives on this fundamental question. Additionally, Autodesk will host a three-day series of workshops on how digital tools and standards are impacting access, equity and opportunities in architectural practice.

US Pavilion Sponsorship – The exhibit at the US Pavilion this year is called OfficeUS and examines the impact of American architectural practice on global building design and construction through two lenses — an ambitious collection of more than 1000 projects done by American architects abroad from 1914 through present day, and a functional office space where eight international designers are tackling the most pressing issues for practice in the future. Autodesk is sponsoring OfficeUS, which was curated by Storefront for Art & Architecture, MIT and the Knowlton School of Architecture at Ohio State, with a substantial cash and software donation through the Autodesk Foundation Technology Impact Program. The exhibit and Autodesk’s involvement support the exploration of new architectural practice models and issues arising in global design practices.


OfficeUS, 2014. U.S. Pavilion at 14th International Architecture Biennale. Designed by Leong Leong. Graphic Design by Pentagram. Photo by David Sundberg/Esto. Image Courtesy Storefront for Art and Architecture.

Austrian Pavilion – This year’s Austrian pavilion looks at how the architecture of parliament buildings have acted as physical expressions of political systems and national identities for the past two centuries. The exhibit consists of 1:5000 scale models of these capital buildings from around the world.  Autodesk contributed expertise and technology to the 3D modeling and 3D printing of the buildings. To further advance the ideas of the exhibit, Autodesk has provided the conceptual modeling application FormIt, which allowed for both for 3D printing of the physical models as well as online viewing of the digital models.


 Image source: designboom

Workshops and Design Charrette — On September 18-20 at the US Pavilion, Autodesk will host a series of panel discussions, a design charrette, receptions and an executive roundtable discussion exploring how digital tools affect the standards for architectural practice.

Phil Bernstein, Autodesk Vice President for Strategic Industry Relations and a faculty member at the Yale School of Architecture, will kick-off the event with a talk entitled "A Vision of the Future for AEC” for OfficeUS partners and invited guests. Bernstein will trace the past 100 years of design technology and focus on three digital eras in recent decades, moving from CAD representations, to BIM models, to a newly emerging era marked by cloud and mobile computing in which context and connection are the defining approaches. 

The following day a series of panels will address the resulting questions of practice in the digital age: Can social, economic, architectural and technological aspirations be encoded into indices and processes for design?  Can measurable systems for design increase the sustainability of society and improve the situation for the individuals who create, use and maintain its physical environment? How do such changes affect the fundamentals of architectural practice?

Panel participants will include notable thinkers on the digital future including Patrick MacLeamy of HOK, Mario Carpo of University College London; Steve Brittan of Sasaki Associates; Sierra Bainbridge of MASS Design Group; Raul Pantaleo of TAMassociati; Peggy Deamer of Yale University; and Mario Giaccone of University of Torino.

The final day is a design charrette that will generate a declaration about the tools and standards needed for architectural practice in the digital turn and speculate on the patterns and approaches for such a future.

"The practice of architecture is currently undergoing as profound a transformation as the advent of Building Information Modeling (BIM).  BIM is not being replaced, but it's is being dramatically enhanced by new technologies. Today, building information modeling allows architects to apply models to the optimization of design performance in buildings.  Tomorrow, we will leverage unfathomable increases in compute power and access to the cloud.  In the coming era of big data and contextualization, I’m convinced we’ll be able to produce more complete systems-based simulations of projects, construction, cities and transportation systems.

“The work of architects will be to represent our buildings as interconnected systems – elements connected to social communities, the infrastructure of cities, transportation systems.  We will be able to go beyond optimizing individual components and improve performance with design decisions which advance much more complex integrated systems. The OfficeUS workshop and design charrette is a unique opportunity for a group of cross-disciplinary experts to imagine and explore the patterns and impacts that will come from this new capability.”

— Phil Bernstein, Vice President, Strategic Industry Relations, Autodesk

For more from Phil Bernstein on the emerging “Era of Connection” in digital design and creation, see his essay published today here.


Autodesk InfraWorks enables designers to visualize their work in the context of larger urban environments and to visually analyze building data at city-scale as represented here.