Vara, Biennale Venice, Italy
The artful circle of Venice


Vara, Biennale Venice, Italy

  • Project:
    Vara, Biennale Venice, Italy
  • Architects:
    Mauricio Pezo/Sophia von Ellershausen
  • Project completion:
  • Product:
    AQUAPANEL® Cement Board Outdoor
  • Application area:
    1,000 m2
  • Type of building:
    Work of art

Every two years, Venice becomes the place to be for everyone interested in architecture and building design. The Biennale Architettura is the world’s most renowned international exhibition for architecture, attracting architects, planners, building enthusiasts and general visitors from around the globe. They come to see country pavilions, showcase projects and creative highlights on display in various spots of the Italian city.

For the 15th exhibition in 2016 the Pritzker laureate Alejandro Aravena from Chile had designed a special project under the name “Vara”. Referring to an historic measure of length, used in France, Spain and Cuba in the 19th century and equalling 0.836 metres, it consisted of ten intertwined circles of various sizes. Realised by the Chilean architects Mauricio Pezo and Sophia von Ellershausen, the work has a labyrinthine character and plays with irregular concave and convex interiors, which the visitors are free to roam. In their sequence, the forms develop to an intriguing spatial experience, but always return to the most basic geometrical figure: the circle.

To make this playful, walkable artwork a reality, a building material was used that allows for such creativity and at the same time is robust enough for an outdoor exhibition with at least a half-year duration. Instead of building it from massive walls, the architects chose AQUAPANEL® Cement Board Outdoor, because the material features several advantages. As an innovative drywall solution made from inorganic materials, it is 100 % water-resistant and highly robust.

At the same it is very flexible and features a bending radius of up to 1 m per board. This made it a perfect choice, especially when the smaller circles had to be constructed, helping to form a fascinating work of art. So Vara attracted a lot of attention right from the start – as an innovative symbiosis of art and architecture it was undoubtedly one of the highlights of Biennale 2016.