[Exhibition] “Critical Care. Architecture for a Broken Planet” at Deutsches Architektur Zentrum

A Planet in crisis. Earth in intensive care. Human-made environmental and social catastrophes are threatening to render the planet uninhabitable. The situation is critical, and dominated by the interests of capital. architecture and urbanism are caught up in the crisis.


Emergency Architecture & Human Rights (EAHR): 100 classrooms for refugee children, Za’atari Village, Jordan, 2017 © photograph: Martina Bo Rubino


But it could all be different. The Critical Care exhibition presented first at the Architekturzentrum Wien (Az W) presents 21 current projects from around the world, including earthquake-proof and sustainable village development in China, flood protection through traditional low-carbon construction techniques in Pakistan and Bangladesh, diverse conversions of modernist buildings in Brazil and Europe, an ecological community land trust in Puerto Rico, the revitalization of historic irrigation systems in Spain, and new concepts for public spaces and mixed urban districts in Vienna, London, and Nairobi. On the basis of these and other projects, Critical Care proves that architecture and urbanism can bring the planet back to life. The repair of the future has begun.


“Critical Care. Architecture for a Broken Planet”
8 February – 22 March, 2020
Deutsches Architektur Zentrum DAZ
Wilhelmine-Gemberg-Weg 6, Berlin


Capitalism has resulted in a new era on earth: the Anthropocene period, also called the Capitalocene period. “[O]ur job is to make the Anthropocene as short/thin as possible and to cultivate with each other in every way imaginable”, writes the philosopher Donna Haraway. The exhibition ‘Critical Care. Architecture for a Planet in Crisis’, curated by Angelika Fitz and Elke Krasny, is an appeal for a caring architecture. The 21 case studies demon- strate that architects and urbanists do not have to follow the dictates of capital and the exploitation of resources and labour. The relationships between economy, ecology and labour are redefined in each project.


Colectivo 720: Unidad de Vida Articulada Orfelinato, Uva de La Imaginacíon, Medellin,
Columbia, 2015 © photograph: Sergio Gómez

Xu Tiantian/DNA_Design and Architecture: Tofu Factory, Caizhai Village, Songyang, China,
2018 © photograph: Wang Ziling


This requires new alliances, also between top-down and bottom-up. The instigators of care in architecture and urbanism also come from local administrations, NGOs, civil society, international organisations or sustainable businesses. Many fields of expertise contribute to caring architecture and urbanism, alongside the planning disciplines, such as anthropology, sociology, environmental sciences, law, landscape planning, art and others besides.


Anapuma Kundoo: Volontariat Home for Homeless Children, Pondicherry, India, 2010 © photograph: Andres Herzog


Caring collaboration is always concrete. The starting point for conservation, continuation and repair of the planet in crisis is the specific local conditions. The exhibition shows this on the basis of concrete situations: flooded areas in Pakistan, lack of infrastructure for refu- gees in Jordan, continued use of modern architecture in Europe and Brazil, earthquake zones in China, informal settlements in Puerto Rico threatened by hurricanes and gentrification, floods and environmental pollution in Kenya, global developers dominating urban develop- ment in London.


Paulo Mendes da Rocha and MMBB Architects: SESC 24 Maio, São Paulo, Brazil, 2017 © 2018 Ana Mello

Xu Tiantian/DNA_Design and Architecture: Tofu Factory, Caizhai Village, Songyang, China,
2018 © photograph: Wang Ziling


The exhibition illustrates the projects with large-format pictorial narratives, models and objects. Films and short videos provide background information on the development processes and allow diverse participants to have their say. Interconnecting analytical grids allow com- parisons to be made and show connections between the case studies from several continents.

The exhibition ‘Critical Care’ assembles 21 architectural and urbanist projects from Asia, Africa, Europe, the Near East, the Caribbean, the USA and Latin America, and groups them along five areas of care: Care for Water and Land, Care for Public Space, Care for Skills, Care for Repair, Care for Local Production. Each of the 21 case studies applies to concrete problems, whether in urban or rural space, and as a prototype simultaneously redefines the relationship between work, economy and ecology.


News source: Architekturzentrum Wien
Subscribe here to get weekly updates about architecture events and exhibitions.