Solving the World’s Problems at the Venice Architecture Biennale

VENICE — It was maybe inevitable that lots of the questions requested of Hashim Sarkis, the curator the 17th International Architecture Biennale, throughout the occasion’s media preview, had been about the pandemic.

After all, the exhibition, which opened in May and runs by Nov. 21, received bumped by a yr, and numerous restrictions stay in place, limiting journey to Venice.

And after a weird 15 months that blurred the boundaries between the workplace and residential, and challenged the very theme of the Biennale’s primary exhibition — “How Will We Live Together?” — it was solely pure for journalists to ask, “in a persistent and anxious way,” as Sarkis put it at the information convention, “how the pandemic changed architecture and how architecture is responding.”

Although the exhibition had been deliberate earlier than the coronavirus swept the world, Sarkis, a Lebanese architect and dean of structure at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, mentioned that it spoke to a sequence of longstanding international points — local weather change, mass migration, political polarization and rising social, financial and racial inequalities — that had contributed to the virus’s international unfold.

“The pandemic will hopefully go away,” he instructed reporters in Venice. “But unless we address these causes, we will not be able to move forward.”

Sarkis’s present brings collectively a plethora of (at occasions confounding) initiatives, packed largely into the exhibition’s two principal websites: one in the shipbuilding yard that for hundreds of years launched Venice as a seafaring powerhouse, the different in the Giardini della Biennale, which additionally home pavilions the place taking part international locations are presenting their very own architectural displays that talk to the primary theme.

Visitors anticipating to see room after room of shows utilizing the conventional language of structure — scale fashions, prototypes and drawings — had come to the improper place.

Instead, many featured initiatives had been extra like conceptual flights of fancy than plans for constructed environments: There had been whimsical bird cages, a bust of Nefertiti made in beeswax and a chunky oak table designed to host an interspecies conference. There were projects that would have been at home in a school science fair, like proposals to feed the world with microalgae or to explore the relationship between nature and technology using a robotic arm.

The question of living together is a political issue, as well as a spatial one, Sarkis said, and several projects in the show highlight architecture’s potential in conflict resolution.

Elemental,” an initiative spearheaded by the Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena, is a striking structure of tall poles arranged in a circle that evokes a Koyauwe, or a place to parley and resolve conflicts among the Mapuche, an Indigenous population of Chile. It was commissioned by a Mapuche territorial organization as part of a rapprochement process between the group and a forest company in conflict over shared land.

Had it not been for the pandemic, representatives for the two sides would have met at the Biennale — “a neutral territory,” Aravena said — for negotiations inside the structure. It will return to Chile after the Biennale, and talks will be staged there instead, Aravena said.

A more traditional urban planning project comes from EMBT, a Barcelona-based studio, exhibiting scale models for the redevelopment of a neighborhood in Clichy-sous-Bois, near Paris, including plans for collective housing, a market and a subway station. The initiative is part of a broader initiative in Paris that will extend the city’s subway lines to better link the suburbs to the center, “to make them feel more connected,” said Benedetta Tagliabue, a partner at EMBT.

To liven up a drab neighborhood, the architects created a colorful pergola for the station, inspired by the decorative patterns of the various African migrants who live in the area. “The space has to belong to the people,” she said.

The issue of coexistence between people and other life-forms was also explored.

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