Venice Biennale 2018: the Chapels of the Holy See

Jun 08, 2018 admin

The Holy See participates for the first time in the International Architecture Exhibition with the project Vatican Chapels, on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore

The Holy See at Venice Biennale (open until November 25th, 2018) presents the project Vatican Chapels commissioned by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, curated by Francesco Dal Co and Micol Forti, in the wood of the island of San Giorgio (given to Fondazione Giorgio Cini by the state property office in 1951).

Pavilion inspired by Asplund’s ‘woodland chapel’, designed by Francesco Magnani and Traudy Pelzel, Vatican Chapels, Island of San Giorgio Maggiore

The project Vatican Chapels is inspired by the Skogskapellet, the woodland chapel built in 1920 by Gunnar Asplund in Stockholm cemetery, that he defined as a place for orientation, meeting and meditation on an expansive land planted with trees, seen as the physical suggestion of the labyrinthine progress of life and the wandering of humankind as a prelude to the encounter.

Vatican Chapels consists of a pavilion that opens the exhibition, where the original drawings and a model of Asplund’s woodland chapel are displayed, and a sequence of 10 scattered chapels, according to the architects’ different expressive languages and the architectural characteristics of the projects.

Teronobu Fujimori’s chapel, Vatican Chapels, Island of San Giorgio Maggiore

This theme has been proposed to ten Italian and international architects invited to build ten chapels that, isolated and totally immersed in the woods of San Giorgio Maggiore and overlooking the lagoon, metaphorically allude to the journey of life.

Norman Foster’s chapel, Vatican Chapels, Island of San Giorgio Maggiore

Eva Prats and Ricardo Flores’s chapel, Vatican Chapels, Island of San Giorgio Maggiore

The pavilion dedicated to Asplund’s woodland chapel is designed by architects Francesco Magnani and Traudy Pelzel while the ten chapels are by Andrew Berman (USA), Francesco Cellini (Italy), Javier Corvalán (Paraguay), Eva Prats e Ricardo Flores (Spain), Norman Foster (UK), Teronobu Fujimori (Japan), Sean Godsell (Australia), Carla Juacaba (Brazil), Smiljan Radic (Chile), Eduardo Souto de Moura (Portugal). [Text Arianna Callocchia – Photo Alessandra Chemollo]

Carla Juacaba’s chapel, Vatican Chapels, Island of San Giorgio Maggiore

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi commented the great significance of this project: “This first entrance of the Catholic Church to the Biennale Architettura occurs during the pontificate of Pope Francis. In the apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium – a sort of programmatic manifesto he authored at the beginning of his Petrine ministry – he wanted to renew a classic trajectory of Christianity, the so-called via pulchritudinis, that is, beauty as a religious path, aware of St. Augustine’s assertion that ‘we do not love, except what is beautiful’ (De Musica VI, 13, 38). Concretely, the pope exalted ‘the use of the arts in evangelization, building on the treasures of the past but also drawing upon the wide variety of contemporary expressions so as to transmit the faith in a new language’.”

Javier Corvalán’s chapel, Vatican Chapels, Island of San Giorgio Maggiore

Text Arianna Callocchia – Photo Alessandra Chemollo