The British Pavilion at the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale adopts the strategy of whimsy to entice the visitor into its diffident charms. Designed by MUF the rooms and spaces of the pavilion are treated as a series of apparently unconnected displays of sketchbooks, of stuffed birds and a puddle which reappraise the relevance of perhaps the greatest British interpreter of Venice, John Ruskin.
Concerned that his own admiration of the city had led to some grotesque architectural progeny in England from the hands of his followers, the exhibition reasserts the significance of the observation of nature, and its manifestations in art and architecture as the cure for the jaded aesthetic palette. After being exposed to two decades of furious and often gratuitous building it was a refreshing experience to see an exhibition which expressed its commitment through advocating the study of beauty. Observation of the complexity and fragility of the natural world, and its economy of means, might prove to be a very timely practice.