Radix: Aires Mateus' common Ground at the Biennale of Architecture

Massive yet lightweight steel structure on the docks of the Arsenale

by Malcolm Clark
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Portuguese architects Manuel and Francisco Aires Mateus are not new to the Venice Architecture Biennale and this year's installation, a steel structure with gold finishing called “Radix”, provides a continuation of their last installation called "voids". Radix, a Latin word meaning root, is anchored, as its name suggests, on the docks of the arsenale in Venice. The architects' use of voids and its golden brown colour, however, give it a much lighter almost wooden-like appearance.

The architects have a penchant for solids and voids, their last installation for the Biennale was indeed called “voids”, which is different from nothingness, but offers a chance for development, a starting point, an element of spatial organization and, above all, a structural calling.

The arches of the pseudo-rectangular block are not intended to create architectural novelty, but to reflect continuity and are inspired by the arches of the Arsenale overlooking the docks. The arches are supported at three points with the main arch overhanging the docks.

The Arsenale was first employed by the Biennale in 1980 with the first International Architecture Exhibition and in the following years was used in the “Aperto” section to promote young artists.

  • Heidi Arad

    Amazing position. I can imagine the sound of the water within the installation

Radix 40


Venice / Italy / 2012