Venice Biennale – Towards Paradise

Venice Biennale – Towards Paradise

For the 2008 Venice Architecture Biennale, Gustafson Guthrie Nichol and Gustafson Porter were jointly commissioned by Director Aaron Betsky to create the Biennale’s first-ever landscape architecture installation. The installation was conceived as a contemporary allegory in the broadest sense by taking the visitor on a journey through earthly dilemmas, evoking what has been lost and what can be gained between man and the landscape.

Towards Paradise was sited at the end of the Arsenale, within the overgrown grounds of the former Church of the Virgins, a Benedictine nunnery that was destroyed in the late 1800s. Telling a story of past, present, and future, the garden was composed of two main spaces linked by pathways cleared through the thick overgrowth and ruins of an abandoned garden. In Nourishment one discovers a traditional food garden – sustenance for body and soul. Deeper through bramble is the contrast of Enlightenment, where unearthly ‘clouds’ lift one’s eyes above a decidedly sculpted, ergonomic landform for reflection and dreams of Paradise.


Size: 2.5 acres
Client: La Biennale di Venezia
Completion Date:
September - November 2008

Project Team

GGN, Landscape Architect
Gustafson Porter, Landscape Architect
Aaron Betsky, Curator

Services Provided

Site Analysis
Master Planning
Streetscape Concept


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