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Being in front of the Great Britain Pavilion in the gardens of the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale is an experience of strong suggestion, which allows you to immediately grasp what cannot be said in words. (Or at least that's what I've tried!)

I have seen many people enter and leave perplexed, a little confused and with the same question to ask at the entrance: "Is the pavilion closed or open? .. But is there nothing here?" Yes, that's right, there is nothing. Visiting the exhibition spaces we find ourselves in the presence of the void where there is no exhibition.

But is emptiness really empty? I wonder intrigued.

Slowly I walk through the tunnels. They are not immaculate: traces of previous installations remain on the walls. A woman takes a picture of a friend while she sips a wine or a prosecco from a glass and, a little further on, with a quick and unnoticed movement, a young Asian sticks a sticker on the wall: it is her professional business card!

There is potential in these empty spaces: they can be used temporarily and are open to all. I imagine a place in constant change. I imagine a space for debates and performances where students, actors, musicians and other passing figures can bring their ideas and thoughts - for the entire duration of the exhibition. I imagine children filling the floor with games and laughter. Yes, I guess, because it is the fundamental design medium for the construction of spaces. [...]

Suddenly, while the empty spaces offer the opportunity for reflection, discussion and open interpretation, insistent footsteps bring me back to reality: the pavilion is not completely forgotten.

I pay more attention and notice on the far side a set of very high railings marked by a continuous and almost constant rhythm of steps. It's a metal ladder mounted on scaffolding, where will it lead? I look around. Under a blazing sun a long line of smiling and sweaty people wait impatiently for 4 pm: they say it's tea time. I decide to go up too: the steep and demanding staircase puts a strain on breath and legs, but those who resist will certainly see their efforts rewarded.

An unexpected new space dominates the panorama of a poignant beauty. Only from up there does everything become clear: finally I can read the spatial freedom of the void, a void ready to be filled and lived.


The emptiness of the Great Britain Pavilion © Erica Scalcione for WMMQ

Scaffolding to reach the raised space © Erica Scalcione for WMMQ

The Architect's Dream © Thomas Cole, Toledo Museum of Art

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