The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have announced that eight full-time or visiting faculty members and four alumni spanning five continents will be responsible for ten separate installations at the upcoming 2016 Venice Biennale. The institution have said that their "worldview for meaningful impact [is] deeply aligned with this year’s theme of architecture in action."
Large-scale exhibitions such as The Druzhba Project—an installation which will explore geo-political conflict unfolding in a fictional journey along the Druzhba, the world’s longest pipeline beginning in Russia—will be joined by smaller-scaled explorations, including Courtyard House Plug-In – a project designed to insert modern living conditions into historic, dilapidated courtyard houses in Beijing, upgrades living conditions while preserving the rich heritage of the city.
"Rwanda Droneport Prototype" / John Ochsendorf, Class of 1942 Professor Matthew DeJong SM ’05 PhD ’09; Philippe Block SM ’05 PhD ’09
Ochsendorf, DeJong (Senior Lecturer, University of Cambridge), and Block (Associate Professor, ETH Zurich) are collaborating with Norman Foster and Foster + Partners to construct a full-scale earthen masonry shell as a prototype for an African “droneport,” which could serve as small airport for drones in areas that lack access to roads. The team that includes Ochsendorf DeJong & Block is participating at the invitation of Mr. Aravena.
"Beyond Bending: Learning from the Past to Design A Better Future" / John Ochsendorf, Class of 1942 Professor; Matthew DeJong SM ’05 PhD ’09; Philippe Block SM ’05 PhD ’09
With “Beyond Bending,” Ochsendorf, DeJong (Senior Lecturer, University of Cambridge), and Block (Associate Professor, ETH Zurich) draw upon historical principles and methods to advocate for compression-only forms, such as vaults, as innovative, modern, and vital structures not only because of their uniquely expressive aesthetics but also because of their potential to achieve efficiency and stability while curbing material waste. The team that includes Ochsendorf DeJong & Block is participating at the invitation of Mr. Aravena.
Location: Corderie dell’Arsenale
After Oil / Rania Ghosn, Assistant Professor
Ghosn’s creative practice, Design Earth, joins a discussion to reimagine and reinvent the urban and social landscape of the Pan-Gulf region. Through speculative narratives on the post-oil future, After Oil engages issues of relevance to the present operations of extraction, transport, and broadly logistics of oil and highlights the environmental implications of tanker operations, wars, and oil spills on the environment of the Gulf.
Location: Kuwait Pavilion
“Brussels Market Building” / Alexander D’Hooghe, Associate Professor
D’Hooghe and his firm, Organization for Permanent Modernity (ORG), are showcasing an innovative design for a mixed-use market building in Brussels serving new and older immigrant populations and a key first step for an urban plan for Brussels’ diverse community. The building is made from “platonic panels”—simple concrete planes that can be assembled in almost any direction. ORG is participating by invitation from Mr. Aravena.
“The Druzba Project” / Gediminas Urbonas, Mitsui Career Development Professor Nomeda Urbonas
Urbonas is the director of MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology (ACT). His installation, in collaboration with MIT research affiliate Nomeda Urbonas, is “DRUZBA: A Psycho-cultural Infrastructure of the Oil Network.” The project maps a fictional journey along the Druzba, the world’s longest pipeline built by the Soviets. Druzba studies the spaces and territories, and their relations to power—the flows and energies rendered by the metabolism of the infrastructure of ideology.
Location: Baltic Pavilion, Palasport Arsenale
“Supraextructures versus Structures of Landscape” / Antón García-Abril, Professor, Department of Architecture
"Supraextructures Versus Structures of Landscape,” is an installation from Ensamble Studio, headed by García-Abril and MIT research scientist Débora Mesa. The project confronts two battles in two antagonistic contexts, evidencing the apparently disconnected but actually strongly interrelated- challenges when designing for highly urban versus highly rural domains. The juxtaposition of these simultaneous realities in the same space evidences the tension of urbanization processes. Ensemble is participating by invitation from Mr. Aravena.
“Urban Meta-Genomics: The Microbiological World of Cities” / Kevin Slavin, Benesse Career Development Professor
Founder of the Playful Systems group in the MIT Media Lab, Slavin is investigating urban genomics to reveal the invisible microbiological world of cities. Using honeybees to gather samples and hives modified to capture “bee debris, the project employs genetic sequencing to discern and visualize urban micro-biological neighborhoods and draw a microbiological portrait of cities.
Location: GAA European Cultural Center, Palazzo Mora
“A New MAM for Sao Paolo” / Angelo Bucci, Visiting Professor
Sixty years after the emergence of Brazil’s Museum of Modern Art (MAM) within Ibirapuera Park in Sao Paolo, Bucci’s practice, SPBR Arquitetos, offers a new configuration to revitalize these landmarks. Four identical transparent prisms—each 750 meters long—form a three kilometer square around the original architectural ensemble of Oscar Niemeyer and blur the boundary between museum and park. SPBR is participating by invitation from Mr. Aravena.
“The Non-Built” / Clara Solà-Morales, Visiting Professor
“The Non-Built,” from visiting professor Solá-Morales and her practice Cadaval and Solá-Morales, elaborates on architecture understood as the physical frame that enhances social interaction and society. The installation considers the constructed environment as more than just walls and explores how the discipline is making the landscape part of architecture and vice versa, at all scales and in urban and rural settings. Cadaval and Solá-Morales are participating by invitation from Mr. Aravena.
“Courtyard House Plug-In” / James Shen SM ’07
Shen’s practice People’s Architecture Office of Beijing, China, offers two exhibitions related to the Courtyard House Plug-in, an innovative approach to repurposing dilapidated buildings Beijing’s old neighborhoods. The design employs modular, lightweight panels that fit within the existing houses by locking together without screws or nails, and that can be removed just as easily from the historic structures.
Location: China Pavilion, EMG Art Foundation at Zen Palace