Writer: Gem Barton
Under the theme ‘Common Ground’ set by 2012 Director David Chipperfield the 13th International Architecture Exhibition sees installations from first time attendants Kuwait, Peru and Angola. Whilst most magazines and journals are blind-sided by the celebrity of the more regular exhibitors Futurespace want to highlight and explore the messages shared by this years newcomers.
Angola: ‘Beyond Entropy’ curated by Stefano Raboli Pansera and Paula Nascimento
The project Beyond Entropy Angola consists of a 1:1 scale reconstruction of a new urban model for the high-density suburban areas of Luanda, the capital of Angola with seven million inhabitants. It acts simultaneously as a green space and a piece of infrastructure.
“The rapid demographic growth of Luanda is a paradigm of the urban transformation that is proliferating throughout Africa with similar problems and contradictions: metropolis without urbanity; congestion without infrastructure; high density without towers. Facing such a challenge, Beyond Entropy Angola has formulated an innovative proposal in order to stimulate debate over the urban policies of the future. By avoiding destructive interventions within the existing urban fabric, this project consists in planting a commonly occurring cane, Arundo Donax, into the interstitial spaces between the suburban buildings of Luanda, producing a new type of public space which performs simultaneously as a garden, as an infrastucture to filter brown water, and as a producer of electricity in the form of biomass.” (Excerpt from Press Release)
The Arundo Donax cane grows extremely quickly, it has thin roots that filter dirty water naturally and its stems can store large quantities of CO2. This makes it a healthy addition to any cityscape experiencing rapid growth as well answering the associated demand for energy, as it is an ideal component for biomass. By focusing on the impact of low-tech infrastructures, this prototype model can be applied to other sub-Saharan countries.
This 1:1 scale reconstruction of an energetic Common Ground is the culmination of Beyond Entropy Angola’s recent work. Visitors have the opportunity to walk through a garden/infrastructure and experience the intensity of a space which has not yet been configured, masterminded or defined.
Peru: ‘Yucun or inhabit the Desert‘ curated by Enrique Bonilla Di Tolla
“In 2012, a 20 km tunnel crossed the Andes for the first time, taking water from the Amazon basin to the Pacific coastal desert, in the North of Peru. The Olmos hydraulic mega-project extends the agricultural frontier by 40,000 hectares and demands nearly 250,000 jobs. This new scenario requires the design and development of a new city in the territory of ancient Moche civilization (100AD- 800AD). The proposal is the result of many meetings, discussions and workshops at the “Universidad de Lima” of all participating firms conducted by the curatorship. ‘Yucún or inhabit the Desert’ presents the work of 20 Peruvian architecture firms that explores the possibilities of transforming this desert into a new urban landscape.” (Excerpt from Press Release)
This project tackles the needs and difficulties encountered when providing liveable and meaning ‘spaces’ in the heart of the desert. It responds to local patterns, weather conditions and resource limitations. Two scales of works have been presented; the first, interpreted by artist Cristina Colichon as a weaved landscape, creating a construct of interlacing and overlapping patterns in the territory, the second embodies the architectural ideas through a series of pottery models (in reference to traditional Peruvian ceramic cultures) each handcrafted by architect practices in collaboration with artist Carlos Runcie Tanaka.
The resulting urban plan addresses the impossibility of building a new city out of one single project. Therefore, the masterplan has been conceived as an articulation of urban moments. These different city visions have a two-fold common ground: a physical territory that evokes the ancestral patterns of occupation of the Peruvian coastal desert and the cultural background of their architects.
Kuwait: ‘Kethra’ curated by Zahra Ali Baba
“Kuwait Pavilion at the Arsenale is an installation that explores the complex social dynamics of contemporary Kuwait society by mapping informal productions of urban culture and knowledge, while elaborating on the inherent potential of social gathering and communing within public and private grounds.” (Excerpt from Press Release)
The installation takes the form of an acoustic map of conversations, revealing sound bytes of talking, negotiating and communicating. A representative network of marginal and mainstream spatial operations, and modes of gathering within the different urban and demographic zones. Marks on the floor beneath the sound devices reveal further information on the inclusion/exclusion nature of each gathering typology. Together they emerge as an “organism generator of social and political biology and form new evidence recognized by the architectural community in Kuwait as a new ground to rethinking Kuwait’s urban and territorial identity and the lifestyles associated with it.”