In this two-part episode of Design and the City - a podcast on how to make cities more livable – reSITE covers the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale, exploring the question of “How will we live together". Part-one looks into the works of the U.S, Nordic, and Luxembourg Pavilion curators, focusing on their use of timber construction as an answer to the exhibition's theme. Part-two features curator Hashim Sarkis and Greg Lindsay, along with the British and Austrian pavilion curators, as they explore the topic of accessibility.
ReSITE - global non-profit acting to improve the urban environment, launched the second instalment of its Design and the City podcast in early 2021, with previous guests including Winy Mass, Thomas Heatherwick and Gary Hustwit. Covering a wide range of inter-disciplinary topics, conversations on the podcast have ranged from issues such as surveillance and security to child-friendly urban planning to how to tackle gentrification in growing cities.
In the first installment of the two-part episode, reSITE spoke with the U.S. pavilion curators, Paul Anderson and Paul Preissner, exhibitors Lukas Feireiss and Leopold Banchini, Luxembourg curator Sara Noel Costa De Araujo, and the exhibitors of the Nordic Pavilion Siv Helene Stangeland and Reinhard Kropf, who all shared a common approach: the use of wood in their pavilions. As explained by the curators, their wood-based installations promote "simplicity, humility, flexibility and familiarity" to answer the question of “how will we thrive together?” along with the Biennale's universal theme.
Often considered as a cheap and practical building material, architects Paul Andersen and Paul Preissner of the U.S. Pavilion, looked at the versatility and humble nature of the material, which stands as the backbone of most constructions in the United States, given the fact that over 90% of the houses in the country are wood framed. In the There Are Walls That Want to Prowl installation, curators Lukas Feireiss and Leopold Banchini paid homage to Lloyd Kahn, an American pioneer who promoted the green, self-build movement in the United States, and gave new definitions for shelter, application of wood structures, degrowth models, and retrospectives of the future of the built environment.
The interview with Luxembourg's pavilion curator looked at the country's housing crisis and how the installation offered an ideal solution for the unaffordable housing conditions through modular, reversible wood-based designs. The final guests of the first episode, exhibitors of the Nordic Pavilion and founders of architecture firm Helen&Hard, examine a new notion of crafting a livable space through a radical approach of shared environments such as facilities, spaces, and resources, exploring how architects have the ability to build communities and not just design physical spaces.
The second installment of this Design and the City episode kicked off with an interview with the curator of the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale Hashim Sarkis, exploring the societal impacts of climate change, global political unrest, and financial inequality along with other global crises. Sarkis was accompanied with Greg Lindsay, NewCities’ Director of Applied Research, discussing how the union of the digital and urban realms can foster and strengthen new communities.
The episode continues with an interview with the curators of the British pavilion, who explained their playful and vibrant approach to examine the polarization of public and private spaces rooted in British culture. And finally, the two-part episode wraps up with an interview with Austrian Pavilion curators Peter Mörtenböck and Helge Mooshammer, who tackled the impact digital technologies on contemporary architecture and urban developments, transforming the pavilion into a digital platform in itself to "challenge the global monopoly exercised by platform enterprises and the imagination of our future spaces and habits".