We have prepared an overview of the major architecture events around Europe this year. Our motive to do this was the sudden realisation that this year Europe’s critics and fans of architecture will be all busy with some very similar topics. Intriguing!
It seems that the notion of “citizen participation” takes a central place in 2016 in the architectural discourse around Europe. Very much independently, major events throughout the continent will be talking about decentralised planning, involvement, design as a process, regeneration, co-everything. All subjects, in which the ordinary, non-professional citizen is given a prominent position. Let us see what architects in Europe will talk about in 2016.
Curators: various, amongst which Maja Popovic (OAW 2012)
Copenhagen Architecture Festival 2016 aimed to discuss and present the alternative strategies and interfaces that occur between the citizens, planners, and authorities. It was particularly this realm between the formal and informal city making, that CAFx wanted to address by offering a platform, where during 7 days discussed various forms of local city making were discussed. The ongoing paradigm shift towards more self-organization in smaller spaces and contexts is one such form. How does ‘co-creation’ increase cultural diversity and diminish inequality in the city and whether it is becoming a player itself in the gentrification process in Copenhagen was one of the issues that were addressed during the festival.
Curator team: Joachim Declerck, Jandirk Hoekstra (OAW 2015), Michiel van Iersel (OAW 2012), Freek Persyn, Daan Zandbelt
Maarten Hejer states that governments are giving up traditional tasks, partially withdrawing from public space and leaving it to companies and citizens. Thus a major question for the biennale is how can we link the necessity to develop a new urban power system to civilians’ and companies’ desire to be less vulnerable to the unintended consequences of technological innovations. And also: can we come up with large-scale designs that are also decentralized, adaptive, and sustainable? How will we organize the interaction between the small scale and the large scale? And in this line of thought, the interaction between bottom-up and top-down. It seems that the IABR is focusing on the notion of architecture as a social project. One way, in which the biennale looks at those questions are the Ateliers: research paths, some of which have been running for more than an year. Another are the collaborations, which is has initiated in its immediate context: providing a stage for people from Rotterdam South, assessing current policies and plans for the area, etc.
The choice of Alejandro Aravena for the curator’s job of the most known architecture event was very symbolic. Aravena is famous with his Quinta Monroy project where he incorporated in the design process the financial capability, family plans and personal choices of the future residents. He gave room for expansion, he left the design as an open story. Under Aravena’s lead the 2016 Venice Biennale will focus on success stories and exemplary cases where architecture made a difference in winning ordinary battles and expanding frontiers. The event will promote the widening of issues to which architecture is expected to respond, adding explicitly to the cultural and artistic dimensions that already belong to our scope, those that are on the social, political, economical and environmental end of the spectrum.
The Triennale will look into how do spaces become places of belonging. Through a variety of study cases the curators are investigating into how people change, but also adapt to their environment. The triennale has engaged people who are residing, observing and documenting different people-context relationships. Based on this, interventions are going to be proposed. The curators have expressed the ambition of questioning contemporary modes of planning/design practice, by giving as much importance to the process of design as to its outcome. They argue that involving citizens is crucial in this process.
We cannot be but very glad that the theme of ONE ARCHITECTURE WEEK for this year relates to what is seen as relevant in other places around Europe. In 2016 our own festival will discuss the topic of citizen participation in the creation of the urban environment. As it appears from the list above, this topic has been steadily gaining importance in various fields of design: from urban planning, through building design to interior architecture. Citizen participation has become in many countries a praised and sought method for working on the city. In the Bulgarian, but also in the regional Balkan context, this topic is still much of a taboo. And still, the Balkans have quite what to show, when it comes to active citizenry. The fall of communism/socialism and subsequently the wars and the financial crisis brought significant modifications to the urban tissue of many cities. It was rather citizens who were the main driving force behind those modifications.
We will be happy to welcome you to the events, which we are organising for this year. Join the Europe-wide conversation on what role can citizens play in architecture. September 30th – October 9th, Plovdiv.Follow us on FB for the latest updates on our initiatives.