Roderick Conway Morris at The Spectator:
An eccentric English aristocrat who constructed a 20-mile network of underground corridors to avoid coming into contact with his fellow humans on his country estate; a Japanese dentist who has amassed an enormous collection of decorative details from buildings spanning a century, retrieved from Tokyo demolition sites; the German inventor of ‘Scalology’, who has spent 60 years studying staircases; and Inuit soapstone carvings of a Cold War early-warning station and of an airport terminal are among the surprises offered by the 14th Venice International Architecture Biennale.
The Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas is this year’s artistic director. With his team of researchers, he has not only composed a fascinating show — Elements of Architecture in the Central Pavilion at the Biennale Gardens — but by insisting on the announcement further in advance than usual of the theme to be tackled by the national pavilions (Absorbing Modernity: 1914–2014) he has also shaped a more co-ordinated overall view of the chosen subject than ever before. The theme has given rise to a variety of thought-provoking reflections on both Architectural Modernism and its impact on those who have lived with the results.