The School of Athens exhibition by Neiheiser Argyros - Photo by Ugo Carmeni; courtesy of the Greek Pavilion @ Venice Biennale 2018.

The School of Athens exhibition by Neiheiser Argyros – All photos by Ugo Carmeni; courtesy of the Greek Pavilion @ Venice Biennale 2018.

Venice 2018 – Referencing Raphael’s famous fresco, The School of Athens exhibition at the Greek Pavilion is transformed into an open and informal stepped landscape inviting visitors to interact with 56 3D-printed models of educational free spaces from Plato’s Academy to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 


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The School of Athens exhibition by Neiheiser Argyros - Photo by Ugo Carmeni; courtesy of the Greek Pavilion @ Venice Biennale 2018.

We treated academic common spaces as architectural specimens — “identified, categorised, and made available for analysis and comparison,” explain the curators Xristina Argyros and Ryan Neiheiser, co-founders of Neiheiser Argyros studio.

The School of Athens exhibition by Neiheiser Argyros - Photo by Ugo Carmeni; courtesy of the Greek Pavilion @ Venice Biennale 2018.

Mounted on vertical steel bars and organized in a grid, the 56 models reveal the communal spaces within each university as part of an international student collaboration between the Architectural Association in London and the National Technical University of Athens.

The School of Athens exhibition by Neiheiser Argyros - Photo by Ugo Carmeni; courtesy of the Greek Pavilion @ Venice Biennale 2018.

Academic institutions included in the exhibition range from Plato’s Academy of Athens, the Carpenter Center by Le Corbusier, the ‘Infinite Corridor’ at MIT in Cambridge, The University of Cambridge courtyards, and the voids of SANAA’s Rolex Learning Centre, among others.

The School of Athens exhibition by Neiheiser Argyros - Photo by Ugo Carmeni; courtesy of the Greek Pavilion @ Venice Biennale 2018.

The ambition is to both look back, and to scan across the current landscape of university architecture, to extract compelling and successful spaces that are free – democratic, unprogrammed, and common.” Explains co-curators Xristina Argyros. Indeed,the exhibition focuses on unprogrammed spaces for impromptu conversation, casual gossip, heated debate, pop-up lectures, networking, and informal teaching – which are vital to the institution’s continued relevance and vibrancy.

The School of Athens exhibition by Neiheiser Argyros - Photo by Ugo Carmeni; courtesy of the Greek Pavilion @ Venice Biennale 2018.

Although we typically think of learning taking place in the classroom, educators and architects have recognised for thousands of years that learning also takes place in the space between; in the hallways, on the stairs, at the café, in the quad,” adds co-curator Ryan Neiheiser.

The School of Athens exhibition by Neiheiser Argyros - Photo by Ugo Carmeni; courtesy of the Greek Pavilion @ Venice Biennale 2018.

The pavilion is set become an open symposium hosting a series talks and events with notable experts from across Greece and leading thinkers from around the world.

The School of Athens exhibition by Neiheiser Argyros - Photo by Ugo Carmeni; courtesy of the Greek Pavilion @ Venice Biennale 2018.

All images by Ugo Carmeni, courtesy of the Greek Pavilion.

The School of Athens exhibition by Neiheiser Argyros - Photo by Ugo Carmeni; courtesy of the Greek Pavilion @ Venice Biennale 2018.