MVRDV and The Why Factory's have collaborated on an exhibition that explores the principles of "architecture and urbanism calls to action”. Titled "Agir", the exhibition is open to the public since June 9th, in the connected spaces of the ArchiLib Gallery and MVRDV’s Paris office. The exhibition takes its name from the French verb meaning “act”, and examines the activist works of MVRDV and The Why Factory, revealing its capacity to address a wide variety of environmental and social challenges.
The exhibition challenges visitors to answer the question of: "what kind of future do you want to see?" Agir features over 50 projects displayed across a 78-metre-long fabric curtain that is folded into the gallery’s compact floorplan. It highlights the architecture firm’s French projects and research, each accompanied by a slogan that is inspired by the language of activism and protest. Each project focuses on how it paves the way for a better future, serving as a manifesto that aims to improve people’s lives, its surroundings, the city, the country, and the planet.
The ideological framing of the exhibition comes from a “bucket list” developed by MVRDV and The Why Factory, comprising 44 goals for the future of our world, including descriptions such as “biodiverse”, “self-sufficient”, “green”, “collaborative”, “democratic”, and “beautiful”. This density of information highlights the intensity of action required to tackle the challenges afflicting society and the world at large. To further magnify this sense of urgency, the exhibited works are accompanied by graphics on the floor that show the condition of the polar ice caps. At the back of the gallery, the exhibition continues onto the ground floor of MVRDV’s Paris office.
Wherever possible, the exhibition acknowledges its environmental impact through a circular economy approach through reusing a large part of the fabric curtain in the meeting rooms of MVRDV’s Paris office, and a special curtain railing that can be reshaped and reused after the exhibition, resulting in an exhibition that produces almost no waste. In its timeline of architectural designs and research, it shows how architects can fight against global injustices in their work, presenting idealistic architecture not as mere utopian speculation, but as a pragmatic possibility.
The work of The Why Factory, the think-tank established at TU Delft by MVRDV founding partner Winy Maas in 2007, forms a "symbiotic relationship" with the designs of MVRDV. The timeline culminates in (w)Ego, a new publication by The Why Factory that researches how "individual desires can collaborate and thrive together in dense urban environments". Winy Maas credits MVRDV's motivation to do things differently and to make the changes in the world that they thought were necessary as the foundation of The Why Factory.
Agir is open to the public at the ArchiLib Gallery in Paris (located at 49, Boulevard de la Villette) until July 26th. The gallery is open Mondays-Fridays from 09:30 to 18:00, and Saturdays (except July 16th) from 14:00 to 18:00.