A desert in Venice

Morocco's first-ever pavilion at the Venice Biennale explores the country's experimental approach to 'desert architecture'.

Morocco’s first ever pavilion at the Venice Biennale documents the country’s radical and experimental approaches to architecture in a desert environment.

The exhibition is an initiative of the Foundation Art Design Architecture (FADA) in Morocco, which promotes and supports the three disciplines across the country. Curated by Tarik Oualalou, president of FADA, the Moroccan pavilion is entitled Fundamental(ism) as a nod to the Biennale's overarching theme of “Fundamentals” proposed by curator Rem Koolhaas. After several biennales dedicated to celebrating contemporary architecture, Koolhaas’s focus spurs participants to consider the past in exploring where architecture is at now and where it could be headed in the future.

The Moroccon pavilion traces the history and progression of its architecture and showcases its architects' exploration of materials and structural forms in residential, office and public spaces.

All 200-square-metres of the pavilion are covered in sand to evoke the Sahara desert. The ceiling is a mesmerising celestial-like scene - a 120-square-metre suspended screen showing video footage of a single day in Morocco. The nocturnal sequence reveals the country’s starry sky and encourages visitors to immerse themselves in the beauty of the natural desert landscape. Slowly the sun rises and an array of Moroccan architecture is showcased before the film cycles back to night time.

The pavilion presents one building or complex per decade for the period covered by the Venice Biennale (1914-2014). The selected projects showcase the significant body of research on the issue of habitation completed by architects in Morocco. Exhibitors are X-TU Architects, Linna Choi & Tarik Oualalou – Kilo, Mikou Design Studio, Menis Arquitectos, Groupe 3 Architectes, Bom Architecture, Stefano Boeri Architetti, Ad Lib Architecture and Bao with Ultra Architecture