The Estonian Centre for Architecture is presenting the exhibition “Square! Positively shrinking” curated by Jiří Tintěra, Garri Raagmaa, Kalle Vellevoog, Martin Pedanik, and Paulina Pähn, in the Pavilion of Estonia at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. Hosted in the Arsenale complex, the project will “explore the role of high-quality urban space in enhancing the future development of small towns that are in jeopardy of depopulation, […] sparking a debate on the lesser-known facet of urbanization”.
The Estonian Centre for Architecture (ECA), a non-profit institution that was established in 2008 by the Estonian Academy of Arts and the Union of Estonian Architects, seeks to raise awareness about how high-quality architecture and urban space are essential for everyday life. For the 2021 Venice Biennale, it will present an exhibition entitled “Square! Positively shrinking”, underlining the phenomenon of shrinking cities, widespread throughout Europe and as a consequence of fundamental changes during the post-socialist Eastern Europe transition.
45 in 47 Estonian towns have lost a significant percentage of their population since 2000, to big cities. Curated by Jiří Tintěra, Garri Raagmaa, Kalle Vellevoog, Martin Pedanik, and Paulina Pähn, the intervention will look at building vacancies and brownfields, the predominantly low quality of residential premises, unsightly dilapidated buildings and an underinvested environment. Moreover, “Square! Positively shrinking” seeks to showcase solutions to shape the renewed identity of shrinking cities via building demolitions, active housing policies, historic building restoration, and urban space revitalization.
The causes of population decline are global, but the consequences are local. One way to combat this phenomenon is to focus on improving the quality of life of the population and strengthening local awareness and identity. Our message is that quality urban space has a key role to play in this and cities and architects can do a lot. -- The Estonian team of curators.
Focusing on “Great Public Spaces”, the exhibition centered on video screenings, highlights the works done within the framework of the Estonia 100 Architecture Programme, that regenerated the centers and public spaces of 15 Estonian towns by 2020, including town center squares in Tõrva, Põlva, Valga and Rapla, completed in 2018, squares in Võru and Kuressaare in 2019, and others in Elva and Rakvere completed in 2020. Finally, responding to the theme of the biennale, “How Will We Live Together?”, the curators explain that "the demand for a good living environment is growing, no matter where and how we will live together. The project "Square! Positively shrinking" helps to raise awareness of the architect's important role and responsibility in defending the quality of our common living environment”.
The real value of something becomes apparent when we lose it today's circumstances have vividly demonstrated the human need for face-to-face interaction, and also the quality of space where this interaction could happen. -- Raul Järg, Commissioner of the Estonian Pavilion.
Square! Positively shrinking
- Location: Arsenale - La Biennale di Venezia (Sestiere Castello, Campo della Tana 2169/F)
- Curators: Jiří Tintěra, Garri Raagmaa, Kalle Vellevoog, Martin Pedanik, Paulina Pähn
- Commissioner: Raul Järg (Estonian Centre for Architecture)
- Production: Eve Arpo, Maria Kristiin Peterson (Estonian Centre for Architecture)
- Exhibitors: Mari Rass, Ott Alver, Alvin Järving, Kaidi Põder (Tõrva main square project), Helen Rebane, Egon Metusala, Kaie Kuldkepp, Liis Uustal, Vilve Enno (Põlva main square project), Gianfranco Franchi, Chiara Tesi, Rea Sepping (Valga main square project); Siiri Vallner, Indrek Peil (Rapla main square project), Villem Tomiste (Võru main square project); Häli-Ann Tooms, Mari-Liis Männik (Kuressaare main square and street project); Ülle Maiste, Diana Taalfeld, Anne Saarniit, Roomet Helbre, Taavi Kuningas (Elva main square and street project); Risto Parve, Kai Süda (Rakvere main street project), Liisa Hirsch, Patrick Tubin McGinley (music, sound); Anna Hints, Joosep Matjus, Ants Tammik, Tushar Prakash, Urmas Reisberg, Kairid Laks (film)