Inauguration of the French Pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia (25 May 2018)


Joint press statement of Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and Françoise Nyssen, Minister of Culture

Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and Françoise Nyssen, Minister of Culture, welcome the inauguration this Friday, 25 May 2018, of the French Pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia.

Infinite Places, developed by the Encore Heureux team made up of the architects Nicola Delon, Julien Choppin and Sébastien Eymard, presents places produced by new and inventive processes that generate architectural processes of value.

The exhibition highlights initiatives across France by civil society and communities that embody a certain freedom of experimentation in the spirit of “permission to do” and the possibilities opened up by architecture. These projects are expressions of programmatic freedom and generosity and they live up to the theme Freespace adopted by the two curators of the 16th International Architecture Exhibition, the Irish architects Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara.

The French Pavilion was inaugurated in the presence of Laurence Tison-Vuillaume, Head of the Minister of Culture’s Private Office, and Pierre Buhler, President of the Institut Français, the agency in charge of the French Pavilion.

The curators provided four exhibition areas that present and define what an Infinite Place is. The Pavilion’s main central room is a sort of cabinet of curiosities and presents items from each of the ten places and scale models. This first room seeks to convey the soul of these areas, exhibiting the sensible aspect that makes a place what it is.

In the room on the right, visitors can continue to explore the ten places in a series of photographs, Instants d’Infinis by Alexa Brunet, which present the people living in these places in original portraits. The drawings of Jochen Gerner are exhibited with these photographs and chronologically explain the history of these places.

In the room on the left, there are 32 individual and collective testimonies of the people behind the projects, those who have initiated, built, studied, managed and lived them. They are illustrated with portraits by Jochen Gerner.

Pavilion visitors are also invited to add to an inventory of infinite places in the world in the room on the right. The commissioners established typical features of an Infinite Place so that visitors could fill in the information sheets more easily:

  • A place that reawakes an abandoned place
  • An inspiring place but one that cannot be reproduced
  • A welcoming and inclusive place to take refuge
  • A place to work, live and party
  • A place that explores collective governance
  • A place that cultivates the unexpected
  • A place with no obligation to consume
  • A place with high ceilings
  • A fragile yet powerful place

In the last room, a workshop has been set up in which people from the ten invited places will take turns or collectively come and work over the six months of the exhibitions. The pavilion is then activated and becomes a place of experimentation, work and collective design.

The Team

  • Encore Heureux
  • Nicola Delon, Julien Choppin and Sébastien Eymard

Infinite Places

  • L’Hôtel Pasteur (Rennes)
  • Le Centquatre-Paris (Paris)
  • Le Tri Postal (Avignon)
  • Les Grands Voisins (Paris)
  • Le 6B (Saint-Denis)
  • La Convention (Auch)
  • La Friche la Belle de Mai (Marseille)
  • Les Ateliers Médicis (Clichy-sous-Bois-Montfermeil)
  • La Ferme du Bonheur (Nanterre)
  • La Grande Halle (Colombelles)

The Ministers and the Institut Français would like to thank all of the partners who contributed to creating the French Pavilion at the International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia.

They give special thanks to the Fonds de Dotation Emerige and to the SNCF for their exceptional and determining participation. They would also like to thank the Fonds de Dotation Grand Paris Express, the Ministry of Territorial Cohesion, the Caisse des Dépôts, Quartus, the Fondation Bettencourt Schueller, the Plaine Commune and the SEM Plaine Commune, for their decisive support. They also thank the following cities and regions: the city of Paris, the city of Rennes, the city of Auch, the city of Clichy-sous-Bois, the city of Montfermeil, Grand Paris Grand Est and the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. Lastly, they thank BTP Consultants, REI Habitat, Paris Batignolles Aménagement, Lumion, Cenomane, APUR, Velum and Ambiance Lumière for their involvement.