Installation view
Nico Bick, Private Space / Public Home (2000)
Acrylic-ink print on vinyl, 380 x 500 cm.
The Dutch pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2000 confronts visitors with an issue that, not only in the Netherlands, but throughout the world, is exerting a major influence on urban social life: how developments in technology, economy, and society are blurring the distinction between the public and the private. The theme is the effect of architecture and urban planning on the privatisation of the public domain, and vice versa.

Owing to the diminishing involvement of government in the provision of public space, the influence of public-private partnership is growing steadily: new developments have the character of theme parks for selected social groupings, surveillance cameras are increasingly part of our everyday urban surroundings. At the same time, the public domain enters the private domain: new media connect the private home to the whole world.

In the Dutch entry for the Biennale 2000 an interdisciplinary team of young Dutch architects, artists, designers, filmmakers and media specialists investigate, from different points of view, the consequences of these developments for architecture and urban planning. The project is not about providing solutions, but about raising questions and creating awareness of the underlying processes, and perhaps suggesting ideas and strategies to deal with them. 

The Dutch pavilion thus becomes one of the new hybrid manifestations of the private and the public: a public living room. NL Architects have created an installation that is both comfortable and alienating at the same time. The visitors and 'lounge-keepers' are players in this interactive design. During opening hours, the lounge-keepers cater to the physical and intellectual wellbeing of the guests. All of them are artists from the Rijksacademie in Amsterdam and organise various activities, communicate with real and virtual guests and seek their views. They will transform the installation into a four-month-long process of growth.

The media presentations in the NL Lounge consist of film, photography, internet, television, and the lounge's own magazine: De-Fence. They all deal with the issue of exclusion and inclusion. One film looks at refugee centres, another examines current technological and social developments through international one-to-one workshops, the prints in the lounge reveal how people behave in urban surroundings, oblivious to the fact that they are being watched.  NL Lounge — Nederlands Architectuur Instituut.