Designed for the Venice Biennale 2018, the Rolex Pavilion by Sahel Al Hiyari Architects, is an experiment in typology and material use. Applying the courtyard plan type to spatially organise the pavilion, the architects used elements like arches, an atrium, a courtyard and a pitched roof to clearly articulate the typological reference.
“While each element may appear in its conventional, familiar place, their actual relationship is spatially and structurally transformed,” said the architects. “This is due to the fact that the typology used is reduced to a limited palette of elements that make up for all other components that have been left out.
“An arch for example becomes a monolithic structural element that literally holds the entire expanded roof, while the peripheral walls are perforated to inscribe a visually permeable boundary. Yet, all elements are unified through the material’s technique of application. All surfaces become various iterations of one thing and although the textures may vary, the idea renders all syntax and detail as invisible as possible.”
The project would consist of mostly concrete, applied through a process of casting and spraying, which, according to the architects, can be regarded as a type of manipulation of the ratios of reinforced concrete in terms of constituents.
The casting and polishing would be implemented to create the flooring as well as the arches or the structural elements, while the spraying would be used for the treatment of the roof and parameter walls.
“The effects of both spraying and casting allow the pavilion to appear as a seamless sculptural piece,” they said. “It suppresses all detail under a thick layer of textured skin.”
The second material is Venetian glass discs, which would be added to the screened wall to visually enclose the space and distort the view from and to the pavilion, which reduces the views from and to the space to a visual texture.
“The pavilion is figurative yet also abstract in nature,” said the architects. “It brings forth memory and clear references, yet also remains external to the history it attempts to transmit.”