What’s An Architecture Biennale Good For Anyway?

What’s an architecture biennale good for anyway?
© Maarteen Hajer

As our residency at the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam comes to an end, we reflect on the impact, the legacy and the future of the 2016 edition.

While it’s not very common for architecture biennales to organise their own criticism, that’s what this year’s International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR) has done. In the early spring we were asked to be this year’s ‘critics-in-residence’ and reflect on the ideas, projects and outcomes of the biennale in a series of essays. After an introductory reflection on this role, we started with a written extrapolation of the future techno-dystopia presented in the VR-installation at the entrance to the biennale, arguing that the future city might indeed look like this ‘if we don’t change course’. Then, we distilled the most important threads from the biennale’s exhibition, which can be read as a broad outline for an alternative way forward with respect to this looming dystopia.

IABR–2016 takeaways
As we noted in our introductory essay, every edition of IABR so far has been political, shedding light on the inner workings of the city and spatial production. It does not focus on “architecture as architecture as architecture”, but engages with the complex acts of urbanism, of orchestrating societal and environmental dynamics in space, and it sees design as a social and public tool. Operating in this context, IABR–2016 chief curator Maarten Hajer has developed a normative outline for the city in the Next Economy (this year’s theme), consisting of three major aspects: cities in the Next Economy are sustainable (i.e. a deep decarbonisation of all our activities), they are productive (providing meaningful employment and manufacturing) and they are socially inclusive (providing opportunities and a right to the city for all).

The projects on show have various strategies in common to realise this vision. A central mantra in all of this is that we should favour economies that add value locally (worthwhile jobs, diverse amenities, ecosystems, etc) over those that extract value (whether financially, socially, or in terms of non-renewable resources). […]

Aline Chahine
Aline is an international licensed architect currently practicing in Canada, she is the reason you are reading this right now, Aline founded the platform back in 2008 shaping the very foundation of Architecture Lab, her exemplary content curation process that defines the online magazine today.
Aline Chahine
Aline Chahine
Aline is an international licensed architect currently practicing in Canada, she is the reason you are reading this right now, Aline founded the platform back in 2008 shaping the very foundation of Architecture Lab, her exemplary content curation process that defines the online magazine today. Highlights Aline founded Architecture Lab in 2008 Lead editor of dan | dailyarchnews since 2019 Founded and Creative Director of DesignRaid Licensed architect with creative sales and marketing experience Experience As full-fledged architect, Aline's background involved a great deal of research that lead to the creation of Architecture Lab as an online database of exemplary design. Her experience snowballed into founding two architecture platforms, Architecture Lab and DesignRaid. Education Aline received USEK’s Master of Architecture in 2004 and BA in English from the University of Toronto
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About Architecture Lab Architecture Lab is a MKR.S Media brand, a website devoted to extraordinary design and aesthetics aiming to promote exceptional aesthetic values and sustainable design in all it's shapes and sizes. Learn more about us and our editorial process and feel free to contact us if you would like to see something in particular on the website, our certified experts will get back to you with the most trustworthy advice as soon as possible. Read all articles by Aline | Follow her on LinkedIn

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