U-TT uses research to develop practical strategies, striving to connect planned and informal parts of cities. The collective’s early years were defined by teaching positions at various universities in Venezuela and Columbia University in New York, along with various international exhibitions, publications, and lectures that contributed to a growing global scope in U-TT’s work. Their extensive study on Torre David in Caracas and the 2012 exhibition »Torre David / Gran Horizonte« in the Architecture Biennale of Venice, brought U-TT and their collaborators the Golden Lion Award. The exhibition »Sí / No: The Architecture of Urban-Think Tank« shows twenty examples of multidimensional architectural projects, provocative analyses, and propositional urban development strategies all over the world.
“Sí / No: The Architecture of Urban-Think Tank”
November 19, 2015 – February 21, 2016.
Architekturmuseum der TU München in der Pinakothek der Moderne
Barer Straße 40
What is the role of the architect today? How feasible is the status quo for future cities? With focus on the political and economic conflicts of Caracas, U-TT principals Brillembourg und Klumpner point out that the profession of architects is no longer engaged with social reality. This is the case not only in Caracas but all around the world. Although cities matter more than ever to the future of the humanity, they are sites of inequality and exclusionary growth. A combination of idealism and criticality is essential to redefining the possibilities of design and usher in an alternative to the status quo.
Contrary to the star architect prototype, U-TT thinks that architects should act as representatives, mediators, and initiators to urban transformations and social processes. Designers must bear the responsibility to engage in political discourse and action, criticizing spatial circumstances and proposing alternative visions. U-TT perceives urban space as a source of inspiration, as a laboratory to test new and unusual strategies. The collective learns from the intelligence of the city – an intelligence that operates creatively in both formal and informal areas. In doing so, U-TT has risked intense criticism from both within and outside of the architectural community.
U-TT’s goal is not only research or material improvement of current urban conditions, but also defining new conceptual territory, methodology, and legitimacy for social design. Architects must tackle critical social issues and encourage communities to invest in their future. Such a worldview has lead U-TT to design for both the planned and unplanned, eschewing the conventional limits of what architects consider, instead reflecting material realities along with cultural processes. At the same time, U-TT’s methodology includes the provision of infrastructure or public space at various scales.
With this exhibition, Brillembourg and Klumpner work to advance their vision in another unusual way: much of U-TT’s collected research and project-based stories are distributed through a spatial installation. PVC water pipes generate a series of tents and passageway, covered by two layers of fabrics. The visitor is encouraged to find her personal path, discover and interact with the material e.g. touching the fabric and lift it up. The simplicity of the structure, the easy installation and dismantling that enable easy transportation, the adaptability, as well as the minimum employment of tools, show the originality of the design. Such process- oriented components represent the approach of U-TT in their projects.
Since 2010, Alfredo Brillembourg und Hubert Klumpner direct the Chair of Architecture and Urban Design at ETH Zurich. Through teaching, they have focused on the education of a new generation of socially engaged architects. Through exhibitions, publications, and films, they ask questions that challenge public perceptions and design dogmas. U-TT’s provocative attitude enables them to transmit the significance of the subject-matter to the visitors.
The first retrospective of Urban Think Tank in Pinakothek der Moderne is a cooperation with ETH Zurich where the exhibition was hosted in October 2015. A corresponding lecture series will take place during the exhibition in the Architekturmuseum.