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Romanian Pavilion at the 2021 Venice Biennale Explores the Challenges and Opportunities of Mass Migration

Romanian Pavilion at the 2021 Venice Biennale Explores the Challenges and Opportunities of Mass Migration

Romania’s contribution to the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale showcases a new perspective on mass migration, a phenomenon with a wide array of causes, ranking high on the international public agenda. Titled Fading Borders and curated by architects Irina Meliță and Ștefan Simion, the exhibition explores the challenges and opportunities of migration and its consequences on the built environment. Using Romania as a study case, where three million people have left the country in the last decade in pursuit of a better life abroad, the curatorial project frames a conversation around the role of architecture in the successful management of the migration phenomenon, as territorial boundaries continue to fade around the globe.

Fading Borders Pavilion of Romania at Giardini, interior renders, 2021 . Image © POSTERFading Borders Pavilion of Romania at Giardini, interior renders, 2021 . Image © POSTERFading Borders Pavilion of Romania at Giardini, interior renders, 2021 . Image © POSTERFading Borders Pavilion of Romania at the New Gallery of Istituto Romeno di Cultura e Ricerca Umanistica, 2021 . Image © POSTER+ 24

 Fading Borders Pavilion of Romania at Giardini, interior renders, 2021 . Image © POSTER
Fading Borders Pavilion of Romania at Giardini, interior renders, 2021 . Image © POSTER

The migration wave experienced in Romania, whose root cause is the individual search for a more fulfilling life, has generated the depopulation of a significant number of cities, now faced with a declining urban life and a built environment falling into disrepair. What are the stories of the ones who left? How has life changed for the ones who stayed? How do we need to design our cities to enhance the quality of life in a perpetually changing social architecture? - are just some of the questions informing the exhibition created by architectural practice POSTER. The Romanian Pavilion at the Giardini is split into two sections, showcasing two narratives: the stories of the Romanian emigrants and their lives in foreign countries and the comprehensive exploration of the impact of mass migration on Romanian cities. Through documentary photography and on-site reporting, the complementary projects, Away and Shrinking Cities of Romania, illustrate a human-centred approach, highlighting the universality of the phenomenon and the collective experience.

Fading Borders Pavilion of Romania at Giardini, interior renders, 2021 . Image © POSTER
Fading Borders Pavilion of Romania at Giardini, interior renders, 2021 . Image © POSTER

FADING BORDERS emphasizes and opens the conversation about how the mobility of large masses of people will impact the way architects could imagine future forms of housing in the broad sense. Migration has been so far a phenomenon related to poverty, war, natural disasters, but the reality of migration should be brought to the centre of discussions about how we shall live, how cities will live, because, most likely, this phenomenon will expand and it will be linked to the pursuit of improving the quality of life. So, we want to initiate a constructive, positive debate, a look to the future, a hypothetical discussion about how we will live together when the word <<together>> becomes very diverse, and the duration of housing acquires a different dynamic.- Stefan Simion, POSTER


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Away is an independent journalistic project documenting the stories of Romanian emigrants, revealing an array of aspects from adjustment to new environments, inclusion issues to the process of shaping a new community. The creative team Teleleu, comprising journalist Elena Stancu and photographer Cosmin Bumbuț, travelled the world and documented the entire spectrum of narratives, from hardship to success, revealing the universal story of the migrant and, in the process shaping a new perspective on what it means to live together.

Romanian workers bring crates of strawberries to the lorry. March 1st 2020, Palos de la Frontera, Spain. Image © TELELEU
Romanian workers bring crates of strawberries to the lorry. March 1st 2020, Palos de la Frontera, Spain. Image © TELELEU

The second narrative is that of the declining Romanian urban environments, showcased through the comprehensive research project Shrinking Cities in Romania, developed by Ideilagram. The study documents the socio-cultural, economic, physical and demographic decline of Romanian cities of various types and sizes, from small touristic towns to industrial cities and harbours by the Danube. The project aims for a constructive understanding of the phenomenon, reframing shrinkage as a vector for modernization and innovation, re-use, alternative resources, or artistic creation.

Anina, Orașul Nou district. Image © Tudor Constantinescu
Anina, Orașul Nou district. Image © Tudor Constantinescu

Accompanying the Romanian Pavilion in the exhibition hosted at New Gallery of the Romanian Institute of Culture and Humanistic Research in Venice, comprising a series of contributions from international architects answering the question How will Migration influence Architecture and the City?. Here, the MAZZOCCHIOO journal (a publication curated by the project team) furthers the conversation proposed by the Romanian exhibition around mass migration, its consequences and opportunities.

Fading Borders Pavilion of Romania at the New Gallery of Istituto Romeno di Cultura e Ricerca Umanistica, 2021 . Image © POSTER
Fading Borders Pavilion of Romania at the New Gallery of Istituto Romeno di Cultura e Ricerca Umanistica, 2021 . Image © POSTER

  • Commissioner: Attila Kim
  • Curators and Exhibition Design: POSTER / Irina Meliță, Ștefan Simion, Cristian-Andrei Bădescu, Ștefania Hîrleață, Radu Tîrcă
  • Exhibitors: TELELEU / Elena Stancu and Cosmin Bumbuț; IDEILAGRAM / Ilinca Păun Constantinescu, Tudor Constantinescu, Iulia Păun, Alexandru Păun, Gabriela Belcineanu, Laura Popa-Florea; MAZZOCCHIOO Journal: Ștefan Simion, Irina Meliță, Radu Tîrcă, Cristian Bădescu, Ștefania Hîrleață

We invite you to check out ArchDaily's comprehensive coverage of the Venice Architecture Biennale 2021, and watch our official playlist on Youtube featuring exclusive interviews with architects and curators of the Biennale.

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Cite: Andreea Cutieru. "Romanian Pavilion at the 2021 Venice Biennale Explores the Challenges and Opportunities of Mass Migration" 19 May 2021. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/961976/romanian-pavilion-at-the-2021-venice-biennale-explores-the-challenges-and-opportunities-of-mass-migration> ISSN 0719-8884

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