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26/09/14 00:01

Scotland + Venice 2014 examines Modernity

Presentations by Scottish architects at world’s biggest architecture festival

From social housing and places of worship, to a football stadium and a Highlands dam, Scotland + Venice 2014 project ‘Past + Future’ brings a positive reflection on Modernity in Scottish architecture to an international audience.

During a month-long residency linked to the British Pavilion in Venice starting today (Friday), and under the direction of award-winning Scottish practice Reiach and Hall, research from several case studies will be presented in a series of specially-produced newspapers. Glasgow’s historic inner city, Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen and Kirkcaldy’s Crematorium are all featured.

Content compiled by four architect-led teams from across Scotland for the newspapers – which will be distributed in Venice - includes recollections of Irvine Welsh and an interview with the late Professor Andy MacMillan, former Head of the Mackintosh School of Architecture.

Over the course of the month the teams will engage with the international architecture community. Invited speakers will use the research to generate new ideas and thinking about architecture in a modern Scotland at four consecutive weekly events in Venice. The initial research and outcomes of the debates in Venice will be brought back to Scotland in an exhibition and events programme curated by Architecture and Design Scotland at The Lighthouse in Glasgow in February and March.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, said:

“’Past + Future’ seeks to trace the evolution of a changing post-war Scotland by reflecting on Modernity in Scottish architecture, the values that it sought to represent, and the optimism and motivation of architects to improve the lives of the ordinary citizen.

“This architectural heritage was an integral part of the vision for post-war change, and now it also serves as a valuable record of developing technologies and social and cultural attitudes.

“The Scotland + Venice project intends to open up debate both at home, and further afield, about what a modern architecture was and what it might be in the future.

“We are a creative, innovative country and sharing our research at the Venice Biennale underlines the importance of what Scotland can learn from abroad and what we can bring to the international sphere.”

Amanda Catto, Portfolio Manager for Visual Arts at Creative Scotland, said:

“Creative Scotland is delighted to be working with British Council and the Scottish Government in commissioning Reiach and Hall to provide Scotland’s contribution to the prestigious Venice Architecture Biennale with an examination of Scotland's Modernist past.

“Through its research this project aims to spark a debate about architecture in Scotland, using recent histories – both national and international - to inform and inspire future thinking.”

Lloyd Anderson, Director of British Council Scotland, said:

“We’re delighted to support a group of Scotland’s leading architectural practitioners and scholars address Rem Koolhaas’ brief for the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale. Focussing on Architectural Modernity in Scotland, we look forward to seeing how this rich theme will manifest itself at the Biennale and how, in turn, the dialogue and debate will continue among Scotland’s architectural community when the project returns to The Lighthouse in Glasgow in 2015.”

Neil Gillespie, Design Director at Reiach and Hall Architects, said:

“Scotland’s presence in Venice enables Scottish based architects and academics to critically engage directly with an international architectural audience. The Scotland + Venice 2014 Biennale itself has afforded a short period of reflection on the roots of a Scottish Modernism, 1950 -1970, that arguably is still valid today, the questions asked then remain to be answered today.”

Notes to editors

The 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale is curated by Rem Koolhaas and entitled Absorbing Modernity 1914-2014.

The Scottish project is being supported by a partnership between the Scottish Government, Creative Scotland and the British Council, and follows on from a successful collaboration in 2010 and 2012.

Reiach and Hall was selected in May from a shortlist of six by an independent panel. A project budget of £68,000 has been provided to Reiach and Hall to deliver the project by the Scottish Government and Creative Scotland.

Each team comprises a practising architect, an academic and two students. They have each explored a past history in the post-war period, 1950-1970.

Presentations are: ‘Being There’ on October 3 with guest Toby Paterson; ‘Embedded Modernism’ on October 10 with Miles Glendinning; ‘Land Works’ on October 17 and discussions with Matzine; ‘Outsiders’ on October 24 and discussions with Emmanuel Petit, Dirk van den Heuvel and Sven Olov Wallenstein.

Project newspapers will be readable online at

Twitter hashtags are #ScotlandandVenice2014 and #PastAndFuture

The project residency has been enabled through a partnership with the British Pavilion which is currently staging a major exhibition, A Clockwork Jerusalem. This explores how the international influences of Modernism became mixed with long standing British sensibilities.

In a Scotland + Venice 2014 linked event, the first of two public symposiums to explore key questions around the rebuilding of the fire-damaged Mackintosh Library will be led by Glasgow School of Art in Venice on 18 October. The second event will be held in Glasgow next spring.