Giancarlo Mazzanti’s “Speaking Architecture” Exhibit at The Chicago Biennial Gives a Voice to the Visitors

In response to the question posed by the curators of the Chicago Architecture Biennial – what is The State of the Art of Architecture today? -- Colombian firm El Equipo de Mazzanti (Giancarlo Mazzanti) developed their exhibition “Speaking Architecture,” which looks at architecture as “a living process rather than a finished and static object.”

The installation puts the visitor in control, breaking with the typical conception of an exhibition as something controlled, static, limited and unidirectional, and creating “a place to play.”

Learn more about the exhibition after the break. 

© El Equipo de Mazzanti

Description from the architects: The Biennial takes its title from a 1977 conference that aimed to bring together the biggest minds in design to reflect on the state of modern architecture. By that time, the industrial age had established a new architectural language best represented by the factory. The factory was designed to control the habits and dynamics that could take place within a space according to a specific model of production: "Man the maker." Nowadays the recognition of diversity and multiplicity has led collectives to call for opportunities that both allow and instigate the transgression of limits, thus breaking rigid rules assigned to space. This situation has strengthened playfulness as a tool -- one able to grant individuals control over space. This tool has the power to provoke new cultural and political responses by catalyzing social transformations: "Man the Player."

© El Equipo de Mazzanti

Instead of establishing a single view of the state of architecture today, Speaking Architecture, in our view, is the clearest response of architecture to people's current needs. For us, architecture is a living process rather than a finished and static object.

© El Equipo de Mazzanti

Instead of being just set as academic backgrounds or a place to show, what would happen if the exhibition and the biennale were environments where architecture learned to be an event, where the architect learned to communicate, and where the viewer learned to have control?

© El Equipo de Mazzanti

We would like to approach the biennale from the habits, the inhabitants and how to inhabit it. From this starting point, the exhibition is thought of as a place to play, a canopy of actions and reactions—an architecture of events. From homo faber to homo ludens, it is a space made by a structure of exercises in constant transformation.

We aim to break the habits on how the viewer usually walks or sees an architecture exhibition. Then we want the inhabitants to hold the voice and to give them the opportunity to take control and create new possibilities and different configurations of inhabiting space. Finally, we want to change the notion of habitation into an unstable, adaptable, or even mobile process full of limitless actions that allow the emergence of new relationships and knowledge, leading us directly to the idea of a ludic place for appropriation.

© El Equipo de Mazzanti

The most compelling exhibitions cause more questions than answers, they make people confront the unknown and recognize their own knowledge. Such exhibitions can trigger new ways of thinking and a constant redefinition of human patterns and knowledge.

© El Equipo de Mazzanti

It’s a great opportunity to envision the Chicago Biennale as a living
laboratory for experimentation and speculation about the possibilities of reunion, festivity, playfulness and the unexpected. The Biennale should be a place that creates a broad range of social interactions.

© El Equipo de Mazzanti

The wall that used to be for hanging plans will learn how to be a table,
The table that used to be for holding models will learn how to be a model itself
The model that used to represent a building will learn how to be a stage
The stage that used to hold a show will learn how to be a place for collective work
The place that used to be a building to content specific habits will learn how to EMBRACE limitless events
And the event will learn how to be speaking architecture

Team: Giancarlo Mazzanti, Mariana Bravo, Carlos Medellín, Maria Mazzanti, Andrea Fajardo, Natalia Marín, Iván Samaniego, Eduardo Mediero, Irene Todero and Juliana Zambrano.

Public Programming: Nicolás Paris

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About this author
Cite: Katie Watkins. "Giancarlo Mazzanti’s “Speaking Architecture” Exhibit at The Chicago Biennial Gives a Voice to the Visitors" 14 Jan 2016. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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