On May 28th, a selection of participants of the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale, including Rem Koolhaas and Norman Foster convened for the first of Alejandro Aravena's "Meetings on Architecture," a series of talks that will take place throughout the Biennale. Under the theme of INFRASTRUCTURE, each invited speaker was given the chance to explain stories behind their participating projects in the Biennale, and the floor was also opened up for questions from the audience.
However, as Aravena explains about the talks, “we have organized them around themes, but architecture by nature always integrates more than one dimension. These Meetings will thus be a way to get from the authors themselves the richness and complexity of the built environment, and what it takes to get things done.” While highlighting unique projects, topics at the first Meeting converged around the focus on shaping the urbanization of emerging economies and the socio-political process and effect of realizing each project. The rest of the speaking panel was comprised by Joan Clos, Andrew Makin and Grupo EPM.
Here are highlights from the discussion:
- 7:20 – 18:00: Norman Foster begins the discussion with the Droneport project by Foster + Partners—a proposal towards approaching the challenges of infrastructural development in rapidly emerging economies, specifically in Africa.
- 18:00 – 30:30: Andrew Makin, a South African architect, discusses work on the economic and social transformation of Durban South Africa’s Warwick Triangle through an urban public project consisting of pedestrian bridges and stairs.
- 30:35 – 39:00: Grupo EPM talk about the urban transformation of Medellin, Colombia from one of the most violent and crime-ridden, to the most innovative city in the world through public projects such as UVA (Unidades de Vida Articulada).
- 39:00s - 49:30: Rem Koolhaas turns a critical eye on globalization and brings attention towards the architecture, form, and infrastructure of the “digitized country-sides” which support the processes of cities worldwide.
- 49:30- 1:06:00: Dr. Joan Clos, executive director of UN Habitat, recounts previous Habitat meetings and discuss the goals and challenges of the world’s urban agenda for the upcoming Habitat III meeting.
- 1:07:00 - 1:19:00: The floor is opened to questions and comments from the audience with arising topics on agency and inclusion, promethean spirit and revolution, and a question on whether city-dwellers were “lazy.”
- 1:19:00: Paolo Baratta closes by discussing the relationship of architecture and politics: that public space is the result of each individual acceding power to a central authority in order to act against our own individual will and towards the common good. Architecture alone cannot create public space.
With a panel featuring Mexico Project, BeL Sozietät für Architektur, Assemble and Al Borde, the next Meeting on Architecture, entitled PERIPHERIES, will be held on June 11th at Teatro Alle Tese in Arsenale.