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Intersecting circles in the Vara pavilion by Chilean architects Pezo von Ellrichshausen

Amazing Spaces at the Venice Architecture Biennale

Photographer Mary Gaudin heads to the Italian island to capture her highlights from its annual architectural showcase

The Venice Architecture Biennale is back for its 15th edition, boasting 61 national pavilions – predominantly located in the verdant Giardini della Biennale and the Arsenale, a vast pre-industrial estate – which are open to the public until November 26. This year's event was curated by Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena, with a set theme of Reporting From The Front, encouraging entrants to consider architecture within the context of contemporary global issues. Each national pavillion interpreted this in a different manner – from Spain's Gold Lion-winning entry, Unfinished, a showcase of the new type of architecture that has developed in the country following the financial crisis, to the majestic Makoko Floating School by Nigerian architect Kunlé Adeyemi and his studio NLÉ, which forms part of their continued research into creating architecture for flood-prone regions. Here, we present a visual overview of the Biennale's myriad highlights, atmospherically captured by New Zealand-born, Montpellier-based photographer Mary Gaudin especially for AnOther, alongside her observations from this year's edition.

On the atmosphere at the Biennale...
"I wandered around the Giardini the day before the Biennale officially opened and there were very few people around. It was the perfect time to check out the spaces. By contrast, the next day was buzzing with all the official openings of each country. Malian rapper Master Soumy played out at the Dutch pavilion opening; the whole Giardini was echoing to the sound of French rap! I stayed on the Lido and each day took the waterbus across the lagoon to Venice. It’s a commute I could happily do every day!"

On her personal highlights...
"This year the Nordic pavilion has been curated by David Basulto and James Taylor-Foster who have audaciously enclosed the central trees in the space, to great effect. The Japanese pavilion is especially poetic, exploring ways of collective living. The models are exquisite; Kunlé Adeyemi and NLÉ’s floating Makoko school docked in the Arsenale is completely beguiling."

On her best new discovery...
"I visited a couple of Carlo Scarpa buildings while I was in Venice. The view of the grand canal from the meeting room he re-designed in Ca’ Foscaria is wonderful, and the garden he designed at Querini Stampalia is simply magical."

On the Venetian light...
"The way Venice is surrounded by water makes the light particular at any time of the day but the early morning and evening light on the water is especially soft. I was mostly photographing indoors but of course couldn’t help photographing the picture-postcard Venice also!"

On her favourite image from the Biennale...
"Rufus Knight asked me to photograph Te Koha – the New Zealand room which he designed for the New Zealand pavilion. It’s a beautiful, calm space which will be used for meetings during the Biennale. I’d recommend popping in if you’re visiting."

On the most sublime piece of Venetian architecture...
"A friend suggested visiting Santa Maria dei Miracoli. In the end I happened upon it by chance. It’s a marble gem."