At the opening to the 2015 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (UABB) we took a moment to speak with Hubert Klumpner, one of the event's six curators. A professor from the ETH Zurich Swiss Institute of Technology and partner at Urban Think Tank, Klumpner, together with Alfredo Brillembourg, spearheaded the curation of "Radical Urbanism," a sub-theme of the entire Biennale's wider theme, "Re-Living the City."
"...we believe that we have enough buildings, enough construction, enough infrastructure. And it is now time to consolidate it and find the qualities within the built. This is not against future production, it is more about a consideration of what we really want in cities." - Hubert Klumpner
Read on to learn how the "Radical Urbanism" exhibition reveals what we can learn from the interventions and ad-hoc, bottom-up initiatives. Also, don't miss Klumpner and Brillembourg's essay, "The Evolution of Radical Urbanism: What Does the Future Hold for Our Cities."
"I’m Hubert Klumpner from the ETH Zurich Swiss Insitute of Technology, and together with my partner Alfredo Brillembourg, Aaron Betsky and Doreen Heng Liu, here from Shenzhen, we curated the 2015 Biennale, titled “Re-Living The City.
Shenzhen is obviously the site of this Biennale for a good reason, because in only 35 years it has grown to the 4th largest city in China and it establishes a paradigm of urbanization. I would say it is not absolutely clear if this is a paradigm of quality, of success, because it is under construction, but it also shows that the city is not a finite product, the city is a process. And in that sense, it makes Shenzhen incredibly relevant. Because we see here a city that emerges, and that is something you have to see first-hand. You have to live it to enjoy it. It’s construction, dust, there’s something going on. And also the status of our biennale today — today’s the opening day— not everything is finished. But we find that almost representative for the city itself.
We’re presenting a group of a generation of young architects and urbanists who work differently— not under the modernist paradigm of tabula rasa and rebuilding a city from scratch. But we believe that we have enough buildings, enough construction, enough infrastructure. And it is now time to consolidate it and find the qualities within the built. This is not against future production, it is more about a consideration of what we really want in cities.
Look at this building here for instance. We’re in an old flour mill. A building, an open building, a structure, can be re-appropriated, it can be re-fit and with very little changes it becomes a Biennale grounds, an exhibition space, a public cafe, a meeting place, a social area. We have, in the outside part of the exhibition, produced instantly public space through illumination and a few little elements. And in the “Radical Urbanism” show, we see temporary installations. There are refugee camps, there are slums, temporary shelters, and this should actually enlarge our palette and offer a toolbox of ideas ready to be picked from, to copy — a sort of a blackboard where people can actually get inspired and bring this not only on a level of urbanization but also on a level of urban culture, of material, of life in the city for a maximum number of people to have a higher quality in their daily routines."