18th International Architecture Exhibition—Venice Biennale 2023

20. 5. – 26. 11. 2023, Venezia, Arsenale

Croatian Pavilion Same as it Ever Was
Curators: Mia Roth and Tonči Čerina

The Croatian Pavilion “Same as it Ever Was” is an ode to the ambiances of coexistence of the wild and the domesticated, natural and fabricated, inanimate and living. It originates from the Lonja Wetlands, where the dynamic environment evolved from centuries of symbioses between the landscape in constant flux and the communities that adapted their lives to it. This sample becomes a backdrop for the discursive programme of the Croatian Pavilion, an ongoing laboratory documented in real time, focused on exploring futures in practice and education. Our “Laboratory of the Future” begins with a deep understanding of the interconnectedness among actors of all origins.
The Croatian Pavilion in the Arsenale includes a spatial installation belonging to the bestiarium of observatories in the Lonja Wetlands. The installation includes physical and virtual segments directly tied to the narrative of the existent visitor’s infrastructure in Lonja Wetlands, treated as a device for understanding the connections between nature and culture. This built infrastructure operates on a subliminal level and elementary recognition perceptible through collective memories, sampling and paraphrasing the familiar. 
The network of the Croatian Pavilion welcomes talks and workshops that will take place on-site and off-site during the Biennale Architettura 2023, with focus on acute issues through interaction between professionals, teachers, and students from various fields. This way, they will test the topics and future actions in the education of architects, designers and related disciplines – recognizing the multidisciplinary and transversal origin of skills engaged in caring for the future environment. Responding to Lesley Lokko’s framing of the topic, we invite and display excerpts of a continuous interdisciplinary process aimed at fundamentally changing the approaches to spatial agency, realizing it through situated education, focused on alternative futures for those that remain. A shift in understanding the relationships between actors within ecosystems relies on a transformation facilitated by education. This discursive format of the Croatian Pavilion disperses the highlights and topics of the “Same as it Ever Was” project towards educational and local environments, extending its reach and aiming for meaningful reciprocity. The workshops will take place in Venice, Ljubljana, Split, Motovun, Milan and Lonja Wetlands during the whole period of the Biennale Architettura 2023. The discursive program kicked off during the pre-opening of the 18th International Architecture Exhibition, with an opening discussion between Harriet Harriss (Pratt Institute), James Auger (Crap Futures, ENS Paris Saclay), and Martin Avila (Konstfack), moderated by Ivica Mitrović (SpeculativeEdu, UMAS). The result of the program, alongside texts that will explore the topics further, will be published in a book to be promoted at the end of the Biennale Architettura 2023, as a retroactive account of the discussions, workshops, case studies and reflections. 

Authorial team: Mia Roth and Tonči Čerina have been working together since 1999, taking part in public architectural competitions in which they have won numerous national and international awards. They intertwine practice with pedagogy and research, particularly focusing on spatial expressions of public interest. Luka Fatović (1988, Zadar) has been a member of the Roth&Čerina office since 2019, previously employed at AB Forum, collaborating on award-winning projects in both offices. Vedran Kasap (1977, Zagreb) and Ozana Ursić (1989, Split) have been working together as Clinica Studio since 2012, a leading office in spatial design, museum exhibitions and interaction design. Niko Mihaljević (1989, Split) is a visual artist and graphic designer and teaches typography, graphic design, publishing, visual arts and sound design. Mia,Tonči, Vedran, Ozana and Niko are part of the design team that created the Lonja Wetlands visitor centre. Ivica Mitrović (1972, Split) has been working on the introduction of critical and speculative design since 2001, and is also a lecturer on the topic. Together, the team intertwines their interests and preoccupations in the Croatian Pavilion, blending the installation with a broad discursive format on possible futures.
Official links „Same as it Ever Was“:
Web: sameasiteverwas.hr
Facebook: facebook.com/CroatianPavilionVenice
Instagram: instagram.com/croatian_pavilion_2023/
Curators: Mia Roth and Tonči Čerina
Authorial team: Mia Roth, Tonči Čerina, Luka Fatović, Vedran Kasap, Ozana Ursić, Niko Mihaljević, Ivica Mitrović
Organisation: Croatian Architects’ Association (CAA), president Roman Šilje

Production: Morana Matković

Sponsors: Zagreb Tourist Board, Croatian Post Inc., Markoja production, trade and services d.o.o., Hörmann Hrvatska d.o.o., JANAF d.d., Hrvatske autoceste d.o.o., Zagrebačka banka d.d., Lonjsko Polje Nature Park Public Institution, Zumtobel Group Croatia.

Photographers: Bosnic+Dorotic