Curated by a team from the Deutsches Architekturmuseum, the German pavilion makes a concerted statement in favor of welcoming immigrants and refugees—Syrian, Turkish, and otherwise—to the country, with an exhibition that documents how cities like Berlin, Offenbach am Main, and Frankfurt have adapted architecturally and culturally to the recent influx of migrants. Photographs of newly arrived families line the pavilion walls, with narratives about their origins, housing, and lives in Germany displayed alongside maps and charts of statistical data.
To emphasize the country’s openness, the curators decided to create four doorless openings in the pavilion’s walls, such that the space remains perpetually accessible at all hours. While landmark designation laws prohibit the alteration or destruction of all national pavilion structures inside the Giardini, the curators were able to negotiate with Venetian preservation authorities to receive approval for the gesture; the walls’ bricks are stacked to form a desk in the pavilion’s central chamber, and will be used to fill the walls back up when this Biennale concludes in November.
The exhibition design, conceived by Berlin-based architecture studio Something Fantastic, borrows directly from immigrant-developed infrastructure—like grocery stores—in the cities examined by the pavilion. The designers celebrate the simplicity and efficacy of such low-budget design, and also underscore the fact that this Biennale is more an exhibition of architectural rhetoric than architecture as such.