Seeing some 300+ people who had all travelled thousands of miles to be there just confirmed how Migrating Landscapes had become everyoneʼs project and how much support we had along the way.
—Johanna Hurme, architect
Being a curator and the organizer for Canadaʼs representation at the Venice Biennale in Architecture has been a once in a lifetime experience. In addition to the Canadian portion of the show that lasted the better part of the last two years, we have just finished an incredible six week set-up in Venice.
The Migrating Landscapes project has certainly expanded the horizons of what we do on a day-to-day basis as architects to include things like working twelve hours of physical labour a day, negotiating with other countries for the rights to the common ground, weeding through the permitting processes abroad, finding tools and supplies and getting them on site in a city without car traffic, processing close to forty 20ʼx4ʼx4ʼ palettes of raw lumber in various sizes in 30+ degree heat and 100% humidity.
Or fundraising for the nearly one million dollar budget - the project has included every possible issue and project management challenge you could imagine, and yet at the same time it has been equally packed with extraordinary experiences almost every day.
Assembling team PINK (Johanna Hurme)
Some of my favourite moments in Venice include seeing the sea of pink in front of me at the inauguration of the Canadian Pavilion as we had asked every Canadian to wear their ʻteam Canadaʼ gear - the hot pink Migrating Landscapes colour that was the updated version of the Canadian red. Seeing some 300+ people who had all travelled thousands of miles to be there just confirmed how Migrating Landscapes had become everyoneʼs project and how much support we had along the way.
Or, equally great was working with our crew of Canadian volunteers with whom we had a blast regardless of the ridiculous amount of work we had to accomplish. Also, during the press days I had a chance to tour some of the worldʼs most famous architects through the Canadian exhibit, including my personal idol Peter Zumthor
- the whole Venice was swarming with architectural celebrities; and to someone in this field it is like meeting a rock star or the Queen of England!
Of course you canʼt beat the amazing food, and just being in one of the most incredible cities in the world as something other than a tourist. While it would have made our jobs a heck of a lot easier if we didnʼt have to cart every power tool and supply package over a thousand bridges I certainly would not trade the Venice surroundings for anything.
Regardless of the millions of tourists that visit Venice every year, the city has not lost its magic. It is a place where you can lose the sense of time (and direction!) wandering through the beautiful narrow alleys from one piazza to another, history of the place is tangible, and away from the famous sites you can still get a real sense of the lives of local people going about their daily business.
Architect Johanna Hurme (5468796 Architecture)
Every little hole-in-the-wall food/drink place makes the most spectacular cappuccinos; the risotto will melt in your mouth, and you discover what the world is really supposed to have meant all along. The taste of salt in the air from the sea, the constant buzz of crickets, and the beautiful sound of the Italian language all around you, expressively debated by the locals - there is no other place like it in the word.
As we were taking a boat taxi to the Biennale Cocktail on the eve of the public opening in the sunset with the Campanille clock tower peering over San Marco square I just remember thinking how incredibly fortunate we were to have had this experience - one that with all its twists and turns will stay with me forever.
The Venice Biennale in Architecture runs until November 25th, 2012.This content is provided by Johanna Hurme. The views expressed do not express the views of CBC. CBC is not responsible for this content