Free space : how the Venice biennale made me re-think of architecture as a main tool for sustainability
As I mentioned last week I was recently in Venice. While there, I went to the Biennale of architecture.
This year theme was ‘free space’, a very broad concept that was interpreted in a variety of different ways.
Now, you have to be aware that this ‘review’ of the exhibits is not coming from an architectural mind, but my brain was stimulated by all of the things, so not only I would rate my experience very high but also will try to explain my new thoughts on how architecture can play a main role in sustainability.
Free space . What does that mean?
First of all, if you were asked to interpret the brief given these two words what is the first thing that springs to your mind?
For me is a big green field. (Weird that is not the big blue ocean , I know, that is my second thought ..)
A big green field represent a space devoid of any human pressure (note, it is not cultivated). But is that what free space is meant to be?
As a matter of fact free space could be a variety of things. Yes it can mean unbuilt areas (did you know that only 8% of Luxembourg is unbuilt??), but it can also mean a flexible space where multiple activities can take place (say for example a square that can be used for playing and then be quickly transformed as a social area and maybe as a theatre ?) or a flexible building that is resistant to earthquakes and can have inside multiple areas for citizens to use during alert periods (a library, a resting area, a communal kitchen?) or even more extreme, a church that can host multiple faiths ? (A little bit like those praying area in some airports) - it could help especially in conflict areas.
What about building to increase social cooperation particularly in areas where citizens are older? (Thinking of some areas in Sardinia as an example here), and bringing back the market square (the Irish pavilion had a great exhibit on this). And building to increase migration and welcome and integration?
What about building in a way that it doesn’t interfere with nature ways, or building in a way to incorporate nature into people views so that people will want to respect it more?
Or involving citizens in natural restoration processes that employ architectural methods (building new coastal defences for example , designing new concrete shapes for harbour developments ...).
Architecture is so important and beside the use of novel materials that are sustainable and recycled, we should start thinking beyond.
This is a call to all architects reading this. You have the power to make a huge difference , so go for it.
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