Situated in the heart of the historic Giardini di Castello between the pavilions of Great Britain and Germany, the Canada Pavilion at the Venice Biennale opened in 1958. When the building was unveiled, the response was overwhelmingly positive. It was described as a “small jewel of a showcase” and its architecture considered the most “advanced” of the pavilions in the Giardini. Shaped in plan like a nautilus shell, the facility spirals out from a central tapered octagonal column that supports the dramatic beams of its roof structure. Combined with the undisguised materials of brick, glass, wood and steel, this form established the pavilion’s architectural character.
Embracing its wooded site, the building integrates two large living trees within its perimeter walls.
In 2014, a project for the rehabilitation of the Canada Pavilion was initiated due to the building’s precarious state of disrepair and functional limitations.
Originally designed by Enrico Peressutti of the renowned Milanese architectural studio BBPR (Banfi, Belgiojoso, Peressutti, Rogers), the Canada Pavilion was completely restored in 2018 by architect Alberico Barbiano di Belgiojoso, heir to the BBPR studio, working in close co-operation with Venice-based architect Troels Bruun of M+B Studio.
The four-year restoration, led by the National Gallery of Canada, required stabilizing and modernizing the heritage building’s components while respecting the original design.
The bagolaro trees growing in the centre of the pavilion were preserved, and the restoration extended to the surrounding landscape. As part of a larger Giardini di Castello renewal, the grounds surrounding the Canada Pavilion were redesigned and replanted under the leadership of La Biennale di Venezia, in collaboration with the award-winning landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, Bryce Gauthier of Enns Gauthier Landscape Architects, and the Venice Superintendent for Architecture Heritage.
About the National Gallery of Canada Foundation
The National Gallery of Canada Foundation welcomes visionary philanthropists, art collectors and corporations from across the country to work together in support of strategic initiatives at the National Gallery of Canada.
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