Architecture – The 1952 modernist building of the Israeli Pavilion at the Gardens of Venice Architecture Biennale usually welcomes visitors through its light-filled glass façade, but this year it is uncannily sealed off. The Cloud-to-ground exhibition coincides with an un-explorable pavilion inviting visitors to its back garden where to discover and reflect on the bunker-like buildings storing data from Middle East countries and beyond.
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Cloud-to-ground taps into the soul-less architecture of the 4th Industrial Revolution. Located between Asia, Europe, and Africa, in addition to the importance of its land to the three monotheistic religions, Israel has become the ultimate new silk route of data storage.
Blocking the Pavilion′s back entrance is a relief portraying one of the six data centers built this year in central Israel to serve both Google and Amazon in operating the new Israeli government national cloud project, Nimbus (Latin for dark cloud), while turning the country into a cloud region for their own use, competing with similar endeavors in Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
The back garden of the pavilion also showcases concrete models of windowless, ‘architecture-less,’ and mysterious data-center buildings. ″The relative lack of architectural attention given to these structures nowadays stands in contrast to the significant role they played over the last two centuries,″ says co-curator Arch. Oren Eldar.
The bunker-like appearance of data centers – a protective shell and a vast array of support systems around the machinery halls – attests to their great importance in protecting the information flow. As we rely increasingly on information infrastructures, the volume of these support systems expands, leading to the exponential growth of their environmental footprint, hidden under the guise of the “cloud.”
″By examining the rapid changes these information structures have undergone over the years, the exhibition sheds light on the economic and geopolitical processes currently underway in Israel and the region,” adds co-curator Arch. Edith Kofsky.
All photos: courtesy of the Israeli Pavilion.