Wang Shu

A grassroots, handmade Venice Architecture Biennale from Alejandro Aravena

A grassroots, handmade Venice Architecture Biennale from Alejandro Aravena

The 48-year-old Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena calls his dense, earnest and grassroots edition of the Venice Architecture Biennale, which opened Saturday to the public and will run through November, “Reporting From the Front.” The show collects work from a range of architects operating on the forward lines of what Aravena calls “battles” against inequality, crushing poverty and environmental crisis and puts it on display with the informality of a journalistic sketch.

An equally good title would be “The Borrowers.” The stars of this biennale — both in Aravena’s main exhibition and the various national pavilions that complement...

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