German Pavillon 2023

Typeface undergoing maintenance: a custom typeface for the Biennale Architettura 2023.



  • Editorial
  • Visual Identity

‘Open for Maintenance’ is the title of the German contribution to the 2023 Biennale Architettura in Venice. A collective of curators explores the potential of the materials and structures provided and discusses issues of social and spatial inclusion in the German Pavilion. We are designing the visual appearance in line with the exhibition concept: as a central design element, we are developing the SH Maintenance typeface using recycled and rearranged elements of Helvetica.

When the old is transformed into something new, the result can be truly special. Cultural techniques such as remixing, ready-mades and recycling give the past new value in the present by reinterpreting and contextualising it. The antithesis of this is the ‘disposable’ culture in which there is no place for relics from bygone eras.

The sustainable use of existing materials and social and urban structures is also one of the key issues being explored by the team of curators of the German Pavilion at this year’s Biennale Architettura. Accordingly, the collective comprising employees of ARCH+, the magazine for architecture and urbanism, as well as the architecture firms Summacumfemmer and Büro Juliane Greb, does not regard its contribution as an exhibition. Rather, it sees it as a starting point for a new, improved construction culture.

With six structural interventions – including an accessibility ramp and a non-discriminatory sanitary room – the collective of curators is turning the German Pavilion into a place where the careful handling of resources and people is jointly negotiated. The building material will be collected remnants of the 2022 Biennale Arte – several metric tons of exhibition materials that will be given a new lease of life.

We transfer this examination of leftover material from the architecture into the design. At the heart of the visual identity we are developing for ‘Open for Maintenance’ is a typeface that dismantles one of the most widely used fonts of our time. SH Maintenance consists of parts of Helvetica that are separated, rotated and rearranged to create a dynamic new typeface.

The icon of the modern era becomes a rich pool of materials for a striking font with endless layout options. SH Maintenance offers several alternatives for each letter. The finished typeface looks angular and erratic, as if the typeface is undergoing constant maintenance. Just like the German Pavilion at the current Venice Biennale.


Contact person

André van Rueth


The Great Repair
Visual identity for an exhibition project

A magazine for architecture and urbanism.