A Modular System for Communal Living

Story in brief

In brief

The Nordic Pavilion, completed in 1962 and based on a winning competition entry by Norwegian architect Sverre Fehn, is likely one of the most photographed spaces in the exhibition grounds of the Giardini. Its use and handling of natural light, plain structures, light-coloured materials, as well as hosting living trees inside its walls, are often thought to embody the ideals of modern Nordic design.

As iconic as the pavilion is, it has also faced challenges as an exhibition space, without traditional room divisions or installable walls. Nevertheless, with each instalment of La Biennale, rotating curatorship models and collaborations between Norway, Sweden and Finland, have produced a variety of exhibits that often take on the challenge of building a relationship with the open plan pavilion and its strong sense of space.

For the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, the National Museum of Norway together with the architectural firm Helen & Hard collaborated on the exhibition ‘What We Share: A Model for Co-living‘. The project turned the pavilion space into a life-size model interior, showcasing speculative spatial solutions and designs for living and working in a communal setting.

The firm Helen & Hard, was started in Stavanger in 1996 and has built its profile with a focus on contemporary uses of timber. The exhibition also utilises the knowledge and experiences of the inhabitants in one of the firm’s completed communal housing projects in Norway.

Mika Savela


Nikhilesh Haval




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