As part of ArchDaily's coverage of the 2016 Venice Biennale, we are presenting a series of articles written by the curators of the exhibitions and installations on show.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, and increasingly since 9/11 and the “War on Terror” that followed, warfare has moved into the city.
While the wars of the 20th century were waged largely between nations, over territorial sovereignty and along disputed borders, the wars of the 21st century are internal and borderless. They are fought between large multinational coalitions and insurgent networks.
Can architects have a truly active role in pressing social problems? Malkit Shoshan, the curator of the Dutch Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale, thinks so. Her career is evidence of this: advocating for the incorporation of a fourth 'D' in the criteria of the UN (Defence, Diplomacy and Development) in its peacekeeping missions around the world, Shoshan has sat at the same table as military engineers and policy makers to analyze the urban impact peacekeepers have left around the world.
For the Dutch Pavilion, Shoshan has focused on the case of the joint mission of the Netherlands and the UN in Gao (Mali). In 2012, Gao was declared capital of the Independent State of Azawad, a nation not recognized by the international authorities, following Mali's Tuareg rebellion. "Although [these peacekeeping missions] occupy large plots of land in hundreds of different cities around the world, it is rarely discussed or addressed by our profession," says Soshan in the following interview.
We spoke with the curator of the Dutch pavilion after her recent visit to Mali to discuss the principles of the Netherlands in the next Venice Biennale; the impact of military drones in public spaces and why, according Shoshan, there is a close relationship between architecture, public policy and ideology. "[With design,] we can make resources available to communities that are exhausted by militarized conflicts, long periods of drought, famine and disease," she says.
A little over a month since Rotterdam-based practice MVRDV announced a new temporary urban structure—a 180-step staircase, 29 meters tall and 57 meters long—for the heart of city of Rotterdam, the project has been officially opened. Those who ascend the staircase will find a temporary observation deck looking over Rotterdam Centraal, a rooftop bar, and the temporary reopening of the Kriterion cinema that was last active in the 1960s.
The Dutch Structuralist architect Aldo van Eyck left his mark in Amsterdam – not only in the form of buildings but also, perhaps surprisingly, in the form of urban playgrounds. Over the course of his career he created a network of more than 700 playgrounds throughout the capital. Today, only a handful of these remain intact. A special publication, compiled by Denisa Kollarova and Anna van Lingen, revisits the seventeen remaining Van Eyck playgrounds in Amsterdam’s city centre. The following extract from the book seeks to introduce the project, and describe its urgency.
We live in an era in which there are not many carefully constructed playgrounds. We don’t like what we see. Have we—city decision makers, architects, designers, parents, friends —forgotten to be critical?
Situated in a former industrial district in the southern Dutch city of Maastricht, it’s perhaps fitting that the Bonnefantenmuseum has often been called a “viewing factory.” The museum, with its ‘E’-shaped plan and distinctive domed tower, is one of the most prominent landmarks along the River Meuse that flows around the city center. Europe’s rich cultural history was a key impetus for architect Aldo Rossi’s design, which employed a number of historical architectural gestures to place the Bonnefantenmuseum within a collapsed European canon.
Designed shortly before Zaha Hadid left the Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA)—led by Rem Koolhaas—to found her practice, Zaha Hadid Architects, the proposed extension for the Dutch Parliament firmly rejects the notion that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Rather than mimic the style of the existing historic buildings, OMA elected to pay tribute to the complex’s accretive construction by inserting a collection of visibly postmodern, geometric elements. These new buildings, unapologetic products of the late 1970s, would have served as unmistakable indicators of the passage of time, creating a graphic reminder of the Parliament’s long history.