Empowerment of Aesthetics

The Danish Pavilion reintroduces the forgotten power of aesthetics as the complementary to the rational. Danish landscape architect and curator of the Danish pavilion, Stig L. Andersson, argues that Niels Bohr’s philosophical aesthetic approach – and the forgotten modernity it represents – is essential for our common road into a sustainable future.

“For far too long, whenever we had to make a case for what our future should look like, we have focused only on the rational aspect. We have not understood that the aesthetic aspect complements the rational. This means that we must find an entirely new language to talk about the value of aesthetics: a language in which the sensuous amenity value of a tree is as important as the tree’s usefulness in terms of soaking up rain water, absorbing CO2 and making our house prices soar.”, explains Stig L. Andersson.

The curator of the 14th International Architecture Biennale, Rem Koolhaas has asked the national exhibitions to adhere to the legacy of the previous century. By inventing The Nordic Welfare State Denmark assigned architecture a crucial role in planning and, almost obsessively, designing in detail the physical setting for a 20th century modern, urban, democratic lifestyle. However, today this authentic integration of architecture and welfare culture can no longer be taken for granted. We need to rethink our common future and to recall the aesthetic qualities of modernity and let them meet the more dominant rationalistic approach.

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In the Danish Pavilion visitors are invited to sense, wonder, be curious and reflect when you meet the smell of dirt, read Niels Bohr’s letter to Einstein, hear the sound of poetry and burry your toes in pine needles. The exhibition “Empowerment of Aesthetics” insists on new sensuous and sustainable symbiosis between rationality and aesthetics – between architecture and nature. It is a reflection on the fundamentals of the modern Danish society, which emerged in the mid19th Century: The short pocket of time after the collapse of Romanticism but before the heralded Danish welfare state fully emerged; where the poetic interaction between architecture, literature, art, nature and science liberated an unprecedented energy and a belief in a dynamic society hitherto unseen in Denmark and elsewhere.

”My ambition is to present the interrelationship of forgotten, repressed or underexposed parts of the dynamic Danish modernity. Not only in the history of architecture, but also in science, art and poetry.” states Stig L. Andersson.


The 14th International Architecture Exhibition “Fundamentals” is open until 23 November.