One-to-One Dom-ino

Venice Biennale 7/6/2014 - 23/11/2014

The 14th International Architecture Exhibition – Venice Biennale 2014
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The Maison Dom-ino, realised by the Architectural Association School of Architecture at The 14th International Architecture Exhibition – Venice Biennale 2014.

Introduction by Brett Steele, Director AA School

The Maison Dom-ino was designed by Le Corbusier in 1914 as a housing prototype that would address a Europe-wide housing shortage in the years leading up to the Great War. The system itself never saw widespread production by either the architect or his European contemporaries in the form it was initially conceived. Instead, the unbuilt imagery and generalised design principles embodied in Maison Dom-ino became the most recognisable – the most fundamental – project of twentieth-century architecture. As a project Dom-ino distils modern architecture to a set of guiding, abstract and idealised principles. This is a key reason why the ‘afterlife’ of Dom-ino can still be seen and felt today, a hundred years later on.

This reconstruction of Le Corbusier’s original design is part of that afterlife. It has been made in the form of a 1:1 working model of system ‘B’ (of the three Le Corbusier originally developed). The original construction system for Dom-ino consisted of horizontal slabs, an integral stairway and slender pilotis, which together reduce modern building to its bare minimum – a concrete structural frame. This 2014 reconstruction replaces the steel and concrete with a twenty-first-century building technology, engineered timber (GSA-Technology). With the help of Bern-based engineer Jürg Stauffer (Neue Holzbau and Just Swiss), this new model follows three of the core principles of the original system: prefabricated elements assembled on site; provision for a locally sourced enclosure or cladding; and the assembly of a unit that can be multiplied horizontally or vertically, as if a domino piece.

This building (of the twentieth-century’s most iconic modern architectural drawing) by the AA School for the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale is the first part of ‘Happy Birthday Dom-ino’ – a year-long celebration of the project’s centennial. Built as a transportable, flat-pack installation, this 1:1 model will travel from Venice to London, Tokyo and other cities worldwide. In this mobile form, Dom-ino 2014 offers a demonstration of the project’s other fundamental expectation: that modern architectural principles are (and remain) a project for the entire world, for architecture, cities and people everywhere.

This initial installation, in front of the Italia Pavilion at the centre of the biennale, will remind visitors not only of modern architecture’s most foundational project, but of an architectural instinct made even more apparent today than it was at the time of its original conception; namely that architecture always operates in the space created by a contrast between architecture as already known, and what it might yet become.


The Architectural Association School of Architecture is grateful for the generous support, advice and assistance of many individuals who have made this project possible.


Original Design: Le Corbusier, 1914, with thanks to the Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris
Reconstruction Commissioned by: Brett Steele (Director, AA School)
Project Architect: Valentin Bontjes van Beek (vbvb studio)
Project Collaboration: Joshua Penk, Sreerag Palangat Veetil (drawings & models), Thomas Weaver
Structural Engineering: Juerg Stauffer (Just SWISS)
Fabrication: Neue Holzbau AG
Assembly Venice: AA Exhibitions
Owner/Client: AA School of Architecture, London
Sponsorship & Support: Just Swiss/Neue Holzbau

Pier Vittorios Aureli and Eleanor Dodman discuss Maison Dom-ino

Valentin Bontjes van Beek on building the pavilion

Easter Island

Recent Photos by Andrew Higgott

Photo Library Corridor Gallery 20/3/2014 - 31/7/2014 -

Monday – Friday 10.00 – 1.00 2.00 – 6.00; Building closed from Monday 7 – 21 April

Image: Moai at Ature Huki

Easter Island's isolation is astounding, a tiny speck of land in the southern Pacific Ocean, over 2000 miles from the nearest land mass. The population of less than six thousand is centred on the town of Hanga Roa, leaving the rest of island as wild and open landscapes, populated by little but the moai or statues which are dotted singly and in groups over the rocky terrain, almost all with their backs to the boundless ocean.

These monolithic figures vary in height from three to six metres, and each is unique: their strange and enigmatic faces are haunting presences, every one with its own character. Some eight hundred were created over a period of five centuries from around 1000 AD. How it was done is astonishing, both in terms of carving and transporting them, but with its tragic later history the traditions of this sophisticated culture were almost entirely lost.

Extreme isolation meant that the island was their world- for centuries, generation after generation had no contact with anywhere else, only knowledge that its first settlers had come as boat people from somewhere further west. These figures act as guardians, maybe revered ancestors, maybe deities: Rapa Nui, to use the island’s indigenous name, was called Te Pitu O Te Henua, which means something like ‘the centre of the world’. They were sentinels for the communities that constructed them, but they also provided a boundary, physical, metaphorical and spiritual, with the world beyond. 

Contact details

Head of Exhibitions:
Vanessa Norwood
T: +44 (0)20 7887 4031

Public Programme



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