Denmark has taken part in the Venice Biennale since its inauguration in 1895. The first Venice Biennales took place in the Palazzo d’ Esposizioni, today known as the main exhibition’s Central Pavilion, in the Giardini di Castello. Here, Denmark was represented in one or two spaces. However, during the years the Biennale grew to a much greater size than the central exhibition building could accommodate. So, from 1907 onwards, a number of countries started to build national pavilions in the park around the Palazzo d’ Esposizioni. Since then, an increasing number of national pavilions have seen the light of day, also outside the park - and in the last couple of Biennales more than 50 nations have taken part.
The Danish Pavilion is situated in the Giardini di Castello, close to the main entrance. The main building og the Pavillion dates from 1932 and was designed by the architect, Carl Brummer. It comprises a large rectangular space with skylights, which from outside is dominated by a colonnade covering the entire façade.
In the post-War years, requirements started to change: not least in terms of the size of the Danish Pavilion. As such it became imperative to find a new solution. For a while, a possible plan was to demolish the existing building and to take part in the establishment of a joint Nordic pavilion. However, this plan was abandoned and instead it was decided to build an extension to the existing building. The commission was given to the architect, Peter Koch in 1960, and he created an unpretentious and functional extension of yellow brick with a flat roof.
The Danish Pavilion has often been accused of being a dissonant and confused piece of architecture, and, viewed from the outside, the overall impression can indeed come across as somewhat disorienting. However, inside, the two buildings are more harmoniously combined, and the many different artists, who have exhibited in the Pavilion over the years, have been able to work, both with and against, the building’s qualities as an exhibition space.