Diary of Vardiya 7 – Obituary Island

28th of August, Tuesday

On the long awaited first day of the 7th Vardiya, we arrived at the Turkish Pavilion for the first time after going through a long promenade in the main exhibition hall located in the Arsenale. Following the first attempts of grasping the technical directions to connect Vardiya #7 to the outer world, we had our first meeting with the fellow tutors who further illustrated the process and the program we will be following for the coming days of our shift. After meeting with them, the team moved back to discovering Arsenale, getting around visiting inspiring pavilions.

At 5 pm, we then had a roundtable meeting with Isaac Michan. He started off the conversation with his responses to functioning of a biennale and its framing. After that he presented three projects of his practice, concerning the current developments in digital tools, his practice develops under the theoretical background of contingency and autonomy and additionally the debate between the two affects his understanding of architecture. Among the several questions of ours, the discussion circled mainly around the topics of importance of representation, teaching of architecture and sustainability.

29th of August, Wednesday

The day started off with our visit to Vatican Chapels located at the San Giorgio Maggiore island, housing the first-ever pavilion of glorious Vatican that left many of us speechless and inevitably astonished. Following our small trip, we found ourselves lost in excitement and simultaneous rush while going through the pavilions of Giardini della Biennale. Following our time in Giardini, we digitally connected with the tutors to exchange ideas on the topic of shift #7 and our impressions on Venice Biennale. After the digital roundtable discussion, as the participants of the current shift, we debated on the possible ways of extending the theme to its very extent and how we could make contributions to it in imaginative ways. Having done with our discussion on the theme, we then started to reflect on the debated ideas through the most effective tool of our time, social media.

30th of August, Thursday

Today, according to our program; we visited The San Michele Island where the cemetery of Venice is located. Because our subject is related to death, as we can understand from our workshop name, ”Obituary Island”, we were looking forward to have inspiration from this beautiful island. Within a very silent atmosphere, we walked around, took photographs and made some sketches. While some of us described this island of cemetery as depressive, overplanned, and highly classificated area according to social rank, others defined the place as unexpected and unconventional.

After our experience in the island, we returned to our pavillion in Arsenale and discussed some ideas about our work. During the following hours, we had a discussion with Bernard Khoury who has various projects in Lebanon. After his speech on several of his works that arose from the political background of Lebanon, we asked him some questions about the role of academy in architecture that he answered with negative ideas.

At the end of the day, we left the pavillion in order to have dinner together.

31st of August, Friday

The fourth day of our Vardiya have started intensively. Because we had the first meeting with our tutors at lunch, we continued to discuss our work and tried to decide some main ideas and sub-ideas that will form our process of work. With our experiences on the island and Venice and with several materials that we have collected from these areas, we decided to focus on a series of deaths and their processes in time with different kind of representations. Some of our ideas were like these:
‘’Ways of dying in Venice?’’
‘’Death Islands’’
‘’Venice is dying/decaying continuously’’
‘’Life is made of various strata of death’’
‘’Dance with masks’’
‘’Visual life and death’’
At noon, we met with the tutors and made another discussion session with them. After we shared our initial ideas, we quickly started to improve on the subject.
At the end, we went to a dinner all together and finalized the day.

1st of September, Saturday

We began the day with a discussion with the tutors to rigidify the main conceptual idea and framework. We structured the concept of “Death” in Venice in a durational sense: past, present, future. Each of us brings to the overall framework different aspects of understanding and exploring the definition of death in Venice. The discussion extended to the method of representation, of how the works should be presented in the exhibition space. We decided to use mixed media as a main strategy to inform a concept of “Cloud.” The media of expression are varied from hand drawings to physical models to writing and video.

In the afternoon, we began to separate to work in smaller groups or individually. The collaborative environment allows each of us to share thought; feedback from each other. In the end, we were able to work on an abstract concept of death, in order to enrich it with a spatial, cultural, and temporal quality. The final discussion and feedback from the tutors ended our productive day. Now we move on finalizing our works and setting up our exhibition.

2nd of September, Sunday

The last day of our Vardiya started early. We continued to study individually or with our groups in order to finalize our works in a cloud within our exhibition cell.

We stayed in our pavillion the whole day. While we were working on the projects, our tutors helped us in organizing the final exhibition. Because we had different aspects of death and different experiences of Venice; we created different and interesting works in the cloud. There were different subtopics about death in Venice, but important thing was to combine each of them together, so that the exhibition cloud can be followed like a storyboard.

At the end, we had an exhibition space that consists of stories about death in Venice, created with different media tools such as videos, collages, renders, models, postcards, which emphasize the freespace itself. Also, it was important to experience how a space can be designed with different tools and what kind of reactions it can create between product and visitors.

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Diary of Vardiya 6 – (N)everland

31st July Tuesday

As the participants of the 6th Shift, today was the first day for us to dive into the main theme of (N)everland and discover the Biennale.

After meeting up with our coordinators inside the Arsenale, we had our first lecture in the Turkish Pavilion. The world of Digital Fabrication in Architecture was introduced by David Jenny. Examples from ETH Zurich gave us a general understanding of what we are planning to do during this week and what can be done in the framework of this topic. The basics of the robotic machine in the Turkish Biennale was also explained. The machine is now being exhibited here with the sands around it. We will be working on it more in the coming days.

In addition, we had a chance to explore the Arsenale part of the Biennale during the rest of the day. Tomorrow we will have some other lectures and tour the Giardini exhibits.

1st August Wednesday

Today we received a lecture from Orkun Kasap about his work at DFAB HOUSE. This helped us acquire some general knowledge about in-situ construction, smart slabs, dynamic casting and complex timber construction.

Our main workshop included a lecture/discussion from Luka Piškorec about a general introduction to digital fabrication. He gave a general background about the history of digital architecture and then presented examples from his collaborative works regarding the digital fabrication in ETH Zurich.

After our discussion with Luka, we were left to go out and explore the Pavilions at Giardini. We each explored and questioned different aspects of each of the pavilions, allowing us to gain a deeper understanding of the Biennale.

In the evening, we had the opportunity to dine with our tutors. This allowed us not only to talk more about our thoughts and experiences in architecture but also to get closer with them.

We will be diving into the robots’ world more tomorrow.

2nd August Thursday

This morning we had a quick Rhino workshop to prepare us for designing our own nozzles as robot-arm attachments. After that, we broke off into teams and began our brainstorming processes for possible nozzle designs.

When we returned from our lunch break we had the opportunity to have a discussion about VARDIYA’s main questions with David Mulder. He talked about architecture as a tool to experiment with collectivity and the agenda of architecture as it pertains to different contexts and typologies. After a couple of interesting exchanges between David and students, we then got to listen to a lecture from Sevim Aslan, who talked about the relationship between architecture, archeology, and landscape. Afterward, we continued working on our nozzle designs.

3rd August Friday

Together we went to San Giorgio this morning to view the Vatican Chapels. We saw Norman Foster’s and Souto de Moura’s pavilions, as well as various other chapel designs for the Vatican’s exhibit at this year’s Biennale. Afterwards, we broke off into groups to experience various art and architecture museums such as the Galleria dell’Accademia, the Punta della Dogana Museum by Tadao Ando, and the Fondazione Berengo in Palazzo Franchetti.

When we returned to the Arsenale, we continued working on our nozzles for the robotic arm. Some groups had already begun 3D-printing study models to see how their designs interacted with sand overnight, so these were able to be tested and revised. Everyone watched with enthusiasm and curiosity as the first iterations tried to produce sandscapes.

After hours of modeling, Selen Ercan gave us a tutorial on how to use URStudio, a program that we will need to use for our robot nozzles. Some groups then tested their own designs.

4th August Saturday

We worked the whole day! After finalizing our nozzle designs for the robot arm, we printed them from the 3D printer. We defined paths for the final versions of our nozzles by using UR Studio’s own software. We tested the nozzles’ performances when attached to the robot arm, when they followed their paths and reacted to the sand, helping us to adjust the small problems and finalize our work. Meanwhile, we created diagrams and created a presentation for tomorrow.

At one point we also had a digital session with Chintan Gohil and Jason Taylor who are the activist-videographers working on their project called The Source Image.

Since we are going to present our work to the juries from ETH Zurich tomorrow, we continued working and tested our various final nozzles after the discussion.

5th August Sunday

For the final presentation, we created a booklet and explained our work to the juries online. After the presentations from three groups, we had a feedback & discussion session with them where we had the possibility to have a debriefing about our work. We got valuable feedback about our groupworks and discussed mainly about the position of sandscaping in the design process. Additonally, trying to elaborate the relation of digital fabrication and architecture helped us to grab different points of view under the topic of digital world.

When the online meeting was over, we kept working on the design of 6th vardiya module inside the exhibition. Making a work division allowed us to work efficiently since while some of us were creating the video, some of us were printing the publishments and some were preparing our module. This also helped us to have at least a bit of more time to visit the parts of the city or biennale which we could not see before.

At one point, our tutors took a leave and left the stage for us. When the stage was ready, we said goodbye to the biennale with a bit of sadness. Besides, as the previous nights we spent together, we all again gathered together and ate our ‘last supper’.

We-as the participants of 6th Vardiya- are done but this is not the end of our pavillion’s changing process. It will keep being freespace with the next Vardiya’s. Team of (N)everland wishes the best for them!

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Digital Roundtable 15 – Chintan Gohil & Jason Taylor

Chintan Gohil and Jason Taylor are activist-videographers that presented on their work and their life story. Jason explained to us about his life journey and how he got attached with the nature and community in the small places all over the world, making movies and pictures from India to El Salvador, and met with small communities from the remote world, and heard different stories. He told us that if he wanted to become a commercial photographer he could earn 30 times higher than what he earns now, but he prefers to live his life like this. On the other hand, Chintan was explaining to us how her life changed after she met Jason, and how she left her profession as an architect to be an activist like Jason.

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Digital Roundtable 14 – Sevim Aslan

Sevim Aslan talked about architectural survey methods as an architectural tool with specific sample projects. And also mentioned what and who the architectural biennales are for. She said that the Biennale is an opportunity to exhibit actual problems for architecture and acts as a pool of inspiration for everyone–but especially for architecture students.


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Conversation – Vardiya 6 | Luka Piškorec

Luka Piškorec, firstly talked briefly about historic problems with measurement, and how industrialization and mass production have acted as a solution to this problem. He continued by talking about numerical design processes with machines such as the perspective machine, Alberti’s machine, and code generated machines. Machines sequentialize everything, and sequentializing is also a pattern language.

And then, he mentioned two paradigms in digital design which are manual drawing and generation through instructions.

Playing sand is much more free than other methods of digital fabrication if we compare it to timber, concrete, and other techniques. There is an endless circulate.


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