These projects are expressions of programmatic freedom and generosity, and they live up to the theme of Freespace adopted by the two commissioners of the 16th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, the Irish architects Yvonne Farrell and Shelly McNamara.
“Infinite Places – Building or Making Places?”
16th International Architecture Exhibition
May 26 – November 25, 2018
Giardini della Biennale, Sestiere Castello, Venezia
Infinite places are pioneering places that explore and experiment with collective processes for dwelling in the world and for building community. These are open places, possible places, un-finished ones that establish spaces of freedom and the search for alternatives – places that are difficult to define because their principal characteristic is to be open to the unexpected, to endlessly build for future possibilities. In the face of the enormous challenges of our time – in which ecological changes conflict with the dominance of commercial economy, at a time of withdrawal into nationalist identities and authoritarianism, it is all the more urgent to maintain hope… to find inspiration in experiments that are sometimes ephemeral, but that are nonetheless concrete and based in solidarity.
Here we present a subjective selection of ten places that emerged out of specific encounters. They are not meant to serve as models, but as sources of weak signals that open up protean, shape-shifting, and subversive perspectives. They exist by virtue of their determination to engage in experiment. Almost all of them started with an abandoned building, or a neglected site.
Here architecture finds its means of expression through the confrontation of pre-existing spatial qualities with an organic process of transformation, whose meanings depend on common needs and the aspirations of those who commit themselves to it with courage and determination. In this spatial and temporal combination, the generalist architect serves as an invaluable guide, at the outer margins of the role that she is normally assigned. The architect does not stay within the bounds of building construction but also seeks to make places. An infinity of possibilities, both here and now.”
THE 10 EXHIBITED PLACES
The choice of these ten places came out of intense discussions we had in our lives as architects. Having at some point contributed to their past or future existence, we are sensitive to what they are, and we are touched by those who bring them to life. They are very different in nature and in function. Some extend out over several hectares. Others are limited to a few hundred square meters. Some of them have existed for decades. Others are projected for the future. Each of these stories starts from an encounter between individuals and a place that recognizes a potential. When the previous activities have disappeared and only an empty edifice remains, the latter is available, at least to the imagination. Sometimes they are a burden for certain elected officials or property owners, who maintain the state of abandon without having obtained the means to address the hopes that these spaces raise. But they are also opportunities for certain artists and visionaries, who adapt to their precarious status and dare to embark on adventures. The methods are incremental and diverse: sometimes the squat can awake, auto-construction can facilitate, and architectural permanence can prefigure. All of them subscribe to and cultivate a mixture of genres, activities, and groups.”
« Through the Infinite Places exhibition, we seek to bring together and tell the stories of ten innovating places that explore new pathways to address the challenges of today by employing bold and tactical processes. To us, the integration of non-programmatic spaces, the creation of spaces of freedom or for citizen appropriation are proof that certain spaces accommodate social experiments. These are “Third Places” for temporary work, for public facilities, for participatory dwellings – places of work and culture (…) spread out over the territory.
The title Infinite Places evokes the range of possibilities that are opened up by those who create these spots. By sharing the conditions of existence of these places, by focusing in detail on the experiences they afford, we see a common desire for experiment in a multiplicity of other place-worlds, beyond the ten specific situations. Singularities, yes, but also a collective desire and inventions that call the meaning of architecture into question: Should one simply erect buildings or seek to make places?» Encore Heureux
The places presented include: Le Centquatre (Paris), l’Hôtel Pasteur (Rennes), La Grande Halle (Colombelles), Les Ateliers Meìdicis (Clichy-sous-Bois-Montfermeil), La Friche la Belle de Mai (Marseille), Le Tri Postal (Avignon), Les Grands Voisins (Paris), le 6B (Saint-Denis), La Convention (Auch), La Ferme du Bonheur (Nanterre). The French Pavilion project is commissioned by the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture and implemented by the Institut français, a public institution responsible for French cultural actions outside of France.