Scotlands contribution to the International Architecture Exhibition of the Biennale Architecttura 2012, Critical Dialogues, showcased projects from four practices that explored the social role of the architect and the creative boundaries of architecture, writes Jonathan Charley, Project Director, Scotland+Venice 2012. The full publication introducing the projects is available to download at the top of this page.
Organised as a week long series of events within the public realm, the projects played with a series of popular themes that have their roots in the long history of alternative architectural and urban practice – the politics of community engagement, the ludic dimensions of architecture, the celebration of the architecture of everyday life and the investigation of different ways of seeing and mapping. As well as planning a sequence of actions that engage with overlooked and marginalised places and social organisations, each practice developed a methodological ‘tool kit that is adaptable and playful so that in principle any one of the projects can be transferred and repeated in other urban locations.
For their project Ludoarchiteca, Stone Opera drew on their experience in play and design education and designed a full size kit of cardboard building blocks with a diagrammatic instruction manual. It was installed in a park in the Cannaregio neighbourhood where local children become ‘builders for the day’.
DO with Derive Veneziana set out to explore and map the working life and periphery of the city through photographs and film footage shot remotely from a low flying red helium balloon. This still and moving imagery, edited into a film, takes the viewer on a journey through a previously unseen city.
GRAS’s project for a Galeria Temporanea, also played with visual perception and comprised of a pop-up mobile gallery fabricated out of interlocking white panels. Lightweight and easily transportable the gallery visited the disused well-heads that dot the city, temporarily isolating, framing and objectifying them as important works of architecture.
Pidgin Perfect’s Banchetto was driven by a commitment to engaging with communities who are normally excluded from the design process. To this end they organised a tour of the main Biennale for a group of local residents who have never before crossed its threshold and invited them to eat, drink and talk architecture at a ‘theatrical’ open air dinner to be held in the old Castello Alto-Bassoneighbourhood of the city.
Scotland Week culminated with the screening of edited footage and documentation of the weeks actions and events and a public party held in Ludoteca Santa Maria Ausiliatrice, the studio hub used by the practices as their Venetian headquarters.