Construction workers are one of the most critical yet underrepresented groups of people in the architecture industry. Often times, the safety of labor conditions are pushed aside in favor of budget constraints and strict deadlines. The Fair Building, an exhibition hosted by the Polish Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale, will address these issues and ask: “why don’t buildings come with ‘fair trade’ marks?”
Responding to the theme of “Reporting from the Front”, the curatorial team, Martyna Janicka, Dominika Janicka, and Michal Gdak, based their pavilion design around the idea that “construction sites represent the frontline in architecture.”
Bee Breeders has announced the winner of the Krakow Oxygen Home competition, which asked designers to reconsider contemporary architectural conventions with respect to current cultural and global issues in the city of Krakow, Poland. Due to the large number of coal-burning furnaces in the city, residents of Krakow are threatened by air pollution, which has resulted in a sky-rocketing number of cases of asthma, lung disease, and lung cancer. The competition brief called for the “design of a care center for lung cancer patients as part of the Maria Sklodowska-Curie Memorial Institute of Oncology.”
For nearly two millennia, European architecture was closely affiliated with and shaped by Christianity. Prior to the advent of Modernism, there was scarcely a style that was not promoted, or more likely defined, by the designs of churches. Such a hypothesis makes it difficult to imagine Medieval England outside the purview of GothicCathedrals, or Renaissance Italy as separate from its Basilicas. But with the Industrial Revolution and the economic and population growth that ensued, infrastructure and housing became the new symbols and necessities of cultural representation, finding their ultimate expression in the ease and simplicity of Modernism. The field of architecture, so long shaped and dominated by the church, had been subsumed by the changing concerns of a commercially driven society. Of course there were still churches being built, but the typology that once defined architecture in its ubiquity became novel and rare. Or so we’ve all been lead to believe.
Surprising as it might be, in the wake of World War II and under Soviet control, Poland built more churches than any other country in Europe. The majority were built in the 1980s, at a time when church construction was neither authorized nor forbidden, and as a result played a pronounced role in Cold War politics. The construction of these churches was a calculated affront to the proletariat-minded Modernism of the Soviets. In their project Architecture of the VII Day, Kuba Snopek, Iza Cichońska and Karolina Popera have sought to comprehensively document these Polish churches and the circumstances of their construction. Unique not only in how they defied the prefabrication and regularity of the Eastern Bloc, the churches were community-led endeavors that relied on local funding and input, long before these practices became buzzwords in 21st century architectural circles.
In 2000, in a trial held in London, the notorious British Holocaust denier David Irving sued an American historian and her publisher for libel. He posited that the Holocaust didn't really happen – "was the planned and systematic murder of six million European Jews an elaborate hoax?" The battle over the meaning of the architectural evidence took centre stage. Ultimately, forensic interpretation of the blueprints and architectural remains of Auschwitz became crucial in the defeat of Irving, in what remains to date the most decisive victory against Holocaust denial.
Flanagan Lawrence has won a competition to design a new Summer Theatre in Kasprowicza Park, Szczecin, Poland. The outdoor performance space will update an original structure, including the arch—made from a membrane of plastic fibres—designed by Zbigniew Abrahamowicz and opened to the public in 1976. Read more about this project after the break.