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Catalan culture gets exposure in Venice and Buenos Aires

Barcelona becomes first city invited to Buenos Aires Architecture Biennale


19 September 2017 04:10 PM


ACN | Barcelona

The Ramon Llull Institute (IRL) is one of the most prominent cultural entities in all of Catalonia, backing Catalan productions worldwide in almost all areas – including architecture. This has indeed been a focus for Barcelona, a burgeoning city with innovative ideas about sustainability and expansion. Now, it can show its designs as far as Buenos Aires and Venice.

An invitation extended to a city for the first time  

Indeed, Barcelona has been invited to participate in the Buenos Aires Architecture ‘Biennale’ this year, representing the first time that a city gets invited to an event. The city’s presence at the exhibition, which is to be held in October 2017, will follow the theme of ‘Barcelona Architecture, Heritage City,’ highlighting the “indisputable value that architecture, public space and urban landscapes offer society,” according to the IRL.

An interdisciplinary and human gaze to architecture

According to Manuel Forcano, director of the IRL, Barcelona Town Hall wanted to avoid focusing on big names or buildings at the Buenos Aires ‘Biennale’ for a reason, instead choosing “a more interdisciplinary and human gaze on the architecture in Barcelona, and a different point of view.” This point of view comes from normal passersby, meaning that, as Forcano explained, “people become more important than the buildings themselves.” The director further added that, indeed, the architecture exhibition planned for Buenos Aires will also discuss the very relationship between people and city structures. 

  • “It’s only through (our) language and culture that we go abroad and we’re already independent”

    Manuel Forcano · Director of Ramon Llull Institute 

RCR architecture

Catalonia will also be showcasing groundbreaking ideas at the 2018 Venice ‘Biennale’ of Architecture, as represented by the RCR architecture studio, an entity selected by the IRL and the Department of Culture. RCR is based in the northern Catalan town of Olot, operating out of an old foundry they remodeled themselves, and its work can be seen in Barcelona (the Biblioteca Sant Joan Antoni-Joan Oller), and as far as Belgium, France and Dubai. Comprised of members Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta, the studio was also the recipient of the prestigious Pritzker award in March, known as the Nobel Prize of architecture.

The general plan for RCR’s exhibit in the Catalan pavilion in Venice is two-fold. One will show “the world of RCR,” according to Forcano, and another set to showcase a new project unveiled to the public for the first time at the ‘Biennale.’

More specific details, though, will be decided on with the help of a co-curator. This individual, said Forcano, will help “put into words” what IRL and RCR have created for the exhibition, even helping to “finish the project.”

Independence through language and culture

Forcano is optimistic for the cultural future of Catalonia. Indeed, he sustained that this is one way in which it’s already gained independence, stating that “It’s only through (our) language and culture that we go abroad and we’re already independent.” Were the country to gain independence, he stated that the IRL would play the same role, and he further expressed his wish for a cultural budget of 1%, as in other European countries. “Culture should have a decent budget,” he affirmed. 


  • Manuel Forcano, director of Institut Ramon Llull, at an interview with the ACN (by Violeta Gumà)

  • Manuel Forcano, director of Institut Ramon Llull, at an interview with the ACN (by Violeta Gumà)