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Circular, Portable, Visionary, and Resilient: Survival Architecture

Circular, Portable, Visionary, and Resilient: Survival Architecture

Mary Mattingly, Desert Deployment 2, 2011. Image courtesy of the artist and Artworks for Change.

Climate Change is an issue that can no longer be escaped in our everyday lives as well as in our disciplines. On view at the Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco is an exhibition that addresses the matter at both of these levels. As the exhibition unravels, we can’t help but wonder how these experiments can become starting points to explore the problem at a much larger scale while still retaining their portable, accessible, and resilient natures.

Guest curated by Randy Jayne Rosenberg of Art Works for Change (AWFC) this exhibition follows the idea that addressing climate change must include ensuring durable, long-term housing solutions for vulnerable populations. For example, participating artist Tina Hovsepian’s Cardborigami (2016) installation showcases her lightweight and sustainable cardboard shelters that are big enough for two people to sleep in and can fold small enough to carry. In a similar vein, the projects and design concepts in the exhibition highlight how we need to rethink and develop robust housing designs that are flexible, resilient, and adaptable to survive the future effects of a changing environment.

The exhibition aims to make concepts accessible to a general audience and to address climate change through four centralized themes that reflect key characteristics about survival architecture: Circular—the importance of creating structures made of materials that can be used and reused indefinitely; Portable—the ability to create easily moveable and nomadic dwellings; Visionary—forward-thinking ideas that can radically change the way we think about shelter; and Resilient—structures that can adapt to adverse and dynamic circumstances.

“Climate change represents a vastly different kind of environmental challenge, requiring out-of-the-box thinking in how we adapt to and survive the expected onslaught of extreme weather and other disruptions. Artists are uniquely adept at re-envisioning our world and how we relate to it, as this exhibition shows.”

– Randy Jayne Rosenberg, curator

Science, technology, architecture, and art converge within the exhibition to question the nature of what it means to survive climate change and natural disasters. How do we design and retrofit our built world to adapt to increased uncertainty and do it affordably? How do we produce dwellings that have a full life cycle of durability pre-, during, and post-disaster?

DATES: December 19, 2019–May 3, 2020 / LOCATION: Museum of Craft and Design, San Francisco, CA / CURATOR: Randy Jayne Rosenberg of Art Works for Change (AWFC) / ARTISTS AND STUDIOS: Andrew Maynard Architecture, Alejandro Aravena, Vincent Callebaut, Davison Design, Tina Hovsepian, IKEA Foundation, Chris Jordan, Liam Kelly, Thomas L. Kelly, Jingyang Liu Leo, Mary Mattingly, Achim Menges, Gerard Minakawa, William McDonough and Partners, Peta Fend and Malgorzata Pawlowska, The Empowerment Plan, Journeyman Pictures, Pedro Reyes, Phil Ross, Terreform ONE and Mitchell Joachim, Tomas Saraceno, Kevin Jin Hek and Won Ryu, and ZO-Loft Architecture and Design. / SUPPORT: Simpson Strong-Tie, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Nathan Cummings Foundation / PHOTOS: Henrik Kam, unless otherwise noted / TEXT: Edited and adapted from the press release by NESS

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