Wooden frame built around the American pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale


American architects Paul Andersen and Paul Preissner built a four-story pine frame in front of the American pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale.

Called American Framing, the pavilion project was commissioned by the University of Illinois at Chicago and explores the history of softwood as a building material in America.

Above and above: Andersen and Preissner have hidden the American pavilion behind a pine frame

Timber framing is a method of construction where pieces of lumber are put together to form a supporting structure, or skeleton, for a building.

It is ubiquitous in America, where early settlers found an abundance of pines and firs. All over the Midwest, they developed construction methods to exploit the cheap material that did not require sophisticated carpentry skills.

Andersen and Preissner built traditional elements of American homes, such as dormers, gables, and a porch, into the wooden skeleton.

Installation in Venice 2021
The frame measures four floors

The structure and accompanying exhibit inside the neoclassical pavilion reveal a construction method that usually remains hidden and is largely unappreciated, the architects said.

“It started with a conversation about the beauty of the projects when the framing was built, but not covered,” Andersen explained.

“It struck us as a bit of a mystery that aside from carpentry guides and a handful of academic texts, the subject has never been explored as seriously as almost any other type of architecture,” added Preissner.

The wooden frame shows the architecture in progress
Skylight functionality on the installation

According to Preissner, timber framing currently accounts for over 90 percent of domestic construction in America due to the material’s availability and low cost. The duo wanted to bring this to Venice with their pine installation.

“Large-scale work expresses the sublime and profound aesthetic power of a material system that underlies most buildings in the United States,” Andersen told Dezeen.

“We hope that the pavilion experience will repackage attitudes towards the widely used but unprivileged construction method, and re-introduce the subject, presenting the vaguely familiar as something deeply marvelous,” added Preissner.

The American pavilion contrasts with its wooden installation
The architects wanted to highlight wood as a building material

The couple also want to showcase wood as a sustainable building material.

“It’s better for the environment than concrete, steel, masonry or old timber,” Andersen. “Plus, you are growing trees while you are doing it.”

American Framing also offers matching wood furniture from architect Ania Jaworska and architectural firm Norman Kelley.

Norman Kelley remade Shaker chairs and benches using softwood and nails, while Jaworska’s pieces are benches made from pre-cut wood.

The wooden frame is at the heart of American architecture
Wooden furniture by Ania Jaworska and Norman Kelley can be found next to the pavilion

Photographs by Daniel Shea and Chris Strong documenting the lumber industry in the United States are also presented as part of the exhibit.

Shea documents the fir and pine forests where trees used for lumber grow, while Strong’s photography focuses on the people who work around mills, shops, and construction sites.

“The photographic projects examine the fringes of the world of timber framing, either through exploration of the temporal site of construction and the social and political aspects of the work, or through textures, myths and origin stories. of the material itself, ”Preissner said.

Paul Andersen and Paul Preissner are both independent architects and associate professors at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Other nature-themed pavilions at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale include a rainwater installation inside the Danish pavilion and a spruce-built cohabitation space inside the pavilion. Nordic.

The photography is by Paul Andersen and Paul Preissner.

The Venice Architecture Biennale takes place from May 22 to November 21, 2021. Check out the Dezeen Events Guide for all the latest information you need to know to attend the event, as well as a list of other events from architecture and design taking place around the world.


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