During one week, with at least three conferences per day and more than twenty installations, The International Architecture Biennial of Buenos Aires filled the substantial building of the Usina del Arte in the South of the city and reconfirmed its commitment to making this event one of the busiest of its kind. In an era fascinated with Biennials, it emphasized its multifaceted characteristic by bringing together architects from Europe, the United States, and neighboring countries such as Peru, Ecuador, Chile, and Uruguay.
A pioneer of biennials in Latin America, the International Architecture Biennial of Buenos Aires has been, since 1985, growing in space and notoriety due to its tradition but also its plurality of offers. These two factors characterize it as one of the busiest events in the region, mixing together professionals, students, academics, and people from other disciplines. On this occasion, practices from different countries were invited to present their projects to a full auditorium and included the founders of the Chilean firm MAPAA, Eran Chen from ODA, USA, Eva Johansson from the Swedish firm Tham & Videgard, the Uruguayan founders of Gualano Gualano, the North American critic and curator Vladimir Belogolovsky, and Jenny Osuldsen from Snohetta.
The Buenos Aires Biennial is a place of cultural dialogs, conferences on architecture, and exhibitions. It is a powerful tool to reinforce the importance of conversations on architecture in the region and beyond. Below you can find a review of two of the most significant exhibitions.
DATE: 15 October – 20 October 2019 / EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE: Carlos Salaberry, Roberto Converti, Miguel Jurado, Juan Carlos Fervenza, Carlos Divar, Matías Glusberg, Daniel Muñiz / INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE: Pablo Katz (France), Manuel Cuadra (Peru), Rinio Bruttomesso (Italy), Laureano Forero (Colombia), Josep Botey (Spain), Handel Guayasamin (Ecuador), Mario Corea (Argentina), Diane Grey (Spain) / NEW GENETARION ADVISORY COMMITTEE: Ana Rascovsky, Max Zolkwer, Bárbara Berson, Claudia Faena, Valeria Matayoshi, Guillermina Muñis, Adrián Russo / ORGANIZER: International Biennial of Buenos Aires Association, CAYC and Grupo Mass / SITE Usina del Arte, City of Buenos Aires, Argentina / TEXT: XVII International Architecture Biennial of Buenos Aires press release – edited by Ness / PHOTOS: Courtesy of Grupo Mass
Housing What’s next? From Thinking The Unit to Building the City
During the twentieth century, the world’s population increased more than in any other period of history: from 1.5 billion people in 1900 to about 7 billion today. Faced with these figures it is impossible not to think what we have done to accommodate this population, or what all these people have done to procure housing. The figures indicate that while we have been able to deal with quantitative deficits, today the great challenge is to qualitatively improve the existing stock. Population growth continues to be effervescent—especially in geographies of the Global South under emerging economic conditions—and the question of how to explore the potential of housing to transform the urban fabric is key to building better cities.
This exhibition and publication Housing What’s next? From Thinking Unit to Building the City of the Inter-American Development Bank is an invitation to strategically use what we have learned, to imagine new solutions and possibilities by putting on the table a renewed agenda for the development of housing and the city in future years.
The project is structured in two axes. On the one hand, the idea that to think about housing in a transformative way is essential to understand it as a generator of urban fabric and the impact it has on its environment. For this purpose, a comparative study was carried out that quantifies the gaps in residential fabric access to urban services and attributes in 42 cities in 21 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. On the other hand, many cases have been compiled to help to answer some of the questions about the potential of housing to transform the city: How do we make housing an engine of inclusion, accessible, resilient and affordable for all? For this, experiences from the Global South were relieved, especially the emerging economies of Latin America, Asia, and Africa. The methodology follows the principles of the housing value chain analysis as a habitat construction process, and studies each of the key steps, consolidating each project into a modifier or indicator that systematizes a glossary of good practices for the production of more affordable, sustainable and culturally significant housing.
Inaugurated in October 2018 in Washington DC, this exhibition is presented for the first time in the region within the framework International Biennial of Architecture of Buenos Aires.
Ph. Grupo Mass
PROJECT: Housing What’s next? From Thinking The Unit to Building the City / AUTHOR: Inter-American Development Bank / TEAM: Verónica Adler, Felipe Vera. María Paloma Silva, Nora Libertun De Duren, Mariana A. Poskus, María Laura Romero, Grace Guinand, Juan Pablo López Gross, Emilia Aragón / RESEARCH: Laura Sara Wainer / CREATIVE DIRECTOR, EXHIBITION DESIGN AND GRAPHIC SUPERVISION: Pablo Roquero / GENERAL COORDINATION: Carolina Sepúlveda / GRAPHIC PRODUCTION: Agustina González Cid / EDITION AND AUDIOVISUAL PRODUCTION: LOTS OF ARCHITECTURE – publishers
The inspiration that the masters of modern architecture in Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Norway acquired from their place of origin and added to the experience they collected during their travels around the world led to a radical change in history that was called Nordic Architecture. Unlike what happened in other European countries, the transition from artisanal to industrial was generated gradually: there was no violent break with the past, with its tradition. The strong influence of the natural environment and the hardness of the climate have been key factors that influenced this process. In the Nordic countries, architecture is integrated into the environment and understands each specific situation. Modernity in the region takes as its axis its evolution to sustainability. Technology and tradition work together, thus achieving a Natural Modernity.
Throughout the last decades, referents emerged that settled on the foundations of the past to bring the Nordic legacy to its maximum development, where energy efficiency, circular economies, and material development are protagonists–always maintaining a constructive heritage and a respect for natural tradition and culture.
In this exhibition, a dialog between modern architects and contemporary practices was shown by giving the same treatment to projects from both periods. In this sense, the architecture of Alvar Aalto, Jørn Uzon, and Sverre Fehn were exhibited together with contemporary practices like Tham & Videgård, Vandkunsten, and Snøhetta.
Ph. Grupo Mass