Part of the official collateral events of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia, Caravane Earth Foundation will bring a unique bamboo Majlis, to the gardens of the Abbazia di San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice. Designed by internationally acclaimed bamboo architects Simón Vélez and Stefana Simic, the project will be on display from 22 May to 21 November 2021.
Majlis, meaning “council” or “gathering place”, is a place where people come together to discuss local events and issues, exchange news, socialize, and deepen their connection with each other.
Inspired by nomadic architecture, the Majlis structure is designed by bamboo architects Simón Vélez and Stefana Simic. It is wrapped in textiles handwoven in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco by a women’s collective from Ain Leuh, and the Boujad Tribe of Morocco. Installed in a wildflower garden at the Abbazia of San Giorgio Maggiore, imagined by landscape architect Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, that will remain once the biennale is over, the Majlis was commissioned by Caravane Earth Foundation and is curated by Dr. Thierry Morel, currently the Director and Curator-at-Large to the Hermitage Museum Foundation (USA), as well as Trustee of the Sir John Soane's Museum (London).
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Providing a platform for events reflecting on our collective futures on planet Earth, the Majlis will also feature an exhibition inside the Abbey of San Giorgio, presenting the people and materials involved in its construction, highlighting the exchange between East and West, with Venice as a major hub. Assembled with the involvement of local Venetian craftspeople, due to travel restrictions for the craftsmen that originally produced the Majlis, the project will take on different events program including the participation of the Simón Vélez, Stefana Simic, the Smithsonian Institution, INTBAU, the University of Cambridge, UNESCO, the Aga Khan University, RestART Beirut, the State Hermitage Museum, and the Syrian architect Marwa al-Sabouni.
Finally, following Venice, Caravane Earth Foundation and the Majlis will begin a multi-year journey, traveling to countries in East and West to find answers to the vital question How will we live together?
Simón Vélez and Stefana Simic
Colombian architect Simón Vélez is the world’s foremost innovator working with bamboo, the most sustainable of natural building materials which he calls ‘vegetable steel’. Working with Stefana Simic, they strive to widen the use of bamboo in buildings. Vélez’s building for Expo Hanover 2000 became the World Expo’s most popular pavilion with 6.4 million visitors, and he has been awarded The Principal Prince Claus Award (2009) and the Award of Honour in Analysis and Planning by the American Society of Landscape Architects for ‘Crosswaters Ecolodge’ (2006). Vélez and Simic together run the design-build firm Gigagrass, based in Colombia.