An approach critical of the modernist hegemony- related to the theme of Absorbing Modernity- is adopted in many of the national pavilions, including the British and French. Despite the familiarity of much of the material in the British show, the clear theme of a failed utopianism came through with invention and wit: the French did something more deeply critical and sometimes moving with a related analysis of post war architecture. Some were just wrong- the Swiss and USA for example- while others such as the Danish and the Austrian were delightful. The Chancellor's 1964 official Bungalow in Bonn was re-created- 'swallowed'- within the German Pavilion's space in a discourse about architecture and representation.
The installations in the Central Pavilion are a series of discrete and separately curated exhibits on individual building elements- the ceiling, the window, the roof, the stair and so on. Their content and certainly their interest varies widely, the scope sometimes too narrow, sometimes too wide, but the overall aim of establishing a discourse about Fundamentals removes the Biennale from its more usual preoccupation with the current. This, and the overall theme of this Biennale, are the work of Rem Koolhaas who once again proves to be a kind of genius with his overall direction, however flawed the gigantic exhibition may be.