at the 2018 venice architecture biennale, the US pavilion brings together a wealth of practices — including DS+R and studio gang — for an exhibition titled ‘dimensions of citizenship’. the pavilion challenges architects and designers to envision what it means to be a citizen today, as critical contemporary issues expand conventional notions of citizenship. the presentation uses design to unpack contemporary social, political, economic, and environmental issues, including the meaning of home, the right to public space, the uses of civic monuments, the dynamics of borderlands, and the conditions of global migration.

US pavilion dimensions citizenship
image © tom harris, courtesy of SAIC and UChicago (also main image)

 

 

commissioned by the school of the art institute of chicago (SAIC) and the university of chicago (UChicago), the US pavilion has been curated by niall atkinson, ann lui, mimi zeiger, and iker gil. as part of the exhibit, the quartet asked seven transdisciplinary teams to grapple with the potential meanings and architectural implications of citizenship at different scales. read more about each of the seven projects below.

US pavilion dimensions citizenship
image © designboom

 

 

citizen | amanda williams + andres l. hernandez, in collaboration with shani crowe

 

installed in the pavilion’s external courtyard, ‘thrival geographies (in my mind I see a line)’ explores issues of race, fugitivity, and public space. made of steel and hand-braided cord, it illustrates ideas of black spatial practice and points toward a liberatory architecture inclusive of all citizens. the work highlights the unique ways in which black women have historically navigated and shaped space in order to advance their position in american society and takes the african american historical figures harriet jacobs and harriet tubman as muses.

US pavilion dimensions citizenship
image © tom harris, courtesy of SAIC and UChicago

 

 

civitas | studio gang

 

memphis landing, a cobblestone-paved landing on the mississippi river that served as the city’s historic port, provides the basis for ‘stone stories’. as part of a larger design process, the project transports hundreds of the site’s cobblestones to venice to explore how the landing could become a site of civic memory that represents many citizen voices, past and present.

US pavilion dimensions citizenship
image © designboom

 

 

a once active waterfront space, the landing and its complex history has long lay dormant, waiting to play a new role in civic life. ‘stone stories’ builds on studio gang’s ongoing work in memphis to uncover the many stories embedded in the landing and to explore how design can help communities imagine a more meaningful future for their public realm. by addressing the latent opportunity in one overlooked civic site, the project demonstrates how citizens everywhere can claim a place in their city’s history and exercise citizenship through engaging the public spaces they own in common.

US pavilion dimensions citizenship
image © tom harris, courtesy of SAIC and UChicago

 

 

region | SCAPE

 

‘ecological citizens uses the venetian lagoon as a globally significant case study of a region under threat and argues for the politics and practice of ecological activism to generate new regional landscapes of the future. the intertidal architectural artifacts on view such as sediment fences and biodegradable coir logs represent bio-reclamation tools for citizen-led responses to climate change.

US pavilion dimensions citizenship
image © designboom

 

 

‘ecological citizens’ envisages the bio-physical reclamation of the disappearing salt marshes through an array of 1:1 materials of intertidal architecture. the exhibit foregrounds an operational landscape of sediment fences, fascines, biodegradable coir logs, and econcrete micro-tide pool units. these marsh rebuilding units are stored and displayed in the us pavilion until the biennale closes. after the exhibition, the elements will be deployed on nearby la certosa island as part of a larger, ongoing salt marsh creation and public access project in collaboration with scientists from the università di bologna and the italian institute of marine sciences.

US pavilion dimensions citizenship
image © tom harris, courtesy of SAIC and UChicago

 

 

nation | estudio teddy cruz + fonna forman

 

challenging the way we think about national boundaries, ‘MEXUS: a geography of interdependence’ presents a mural-sized visualization of the watersheds, indigenous lands, ecological corridors, and migratory patterns that straddle the political border between mexico and the united states. the work suggests an alternative transborder commons based not on physical division, but shared assets and cooperative opportunities.

US pavilion dimensions citizenship
image © tom harris, courtesy of SAIC and UChicago

 

 

‘MEXUS’ challenges the legitimacy of an undifferentiated line between nations imposed onto a territory, which truncates the social and environmental systems that bridge divided nations. ‘MEXUS’ presents a thicker set of ecologies framed by the existing structure of binational watersheds that sustain the entire region.

US pavilion dimensions citizenship
image © tom harris, courtesy of SAIC and UChicago

 

 

globe | diller scofidio + renfro, laura kurgan, robert gerard pietrusko with columbia center for spatial research

 

‘in plain sight’ reveals anomalies and the consequent perils at the core of a binary world view. visitors are shown places in the world with many people and no lights, and those with bright lights and no people, and are suspended between day and night and light and darkness exposed to the political and social realities of being invisible in plain sight.

US pavilion dimensions citizenship
image © tom harris, courtesy of SAIC and UChicago

 

 

network | keller easterling with MANY

 

the MANY platform proposes to facilitate migration through an exchange of needs. favoring cosmopolitan mobility over citizenship, it more robustly networks short-term visas and suggests that cities can bargain with their underexploited spaces to attract a changing influx of talent and resources matching their needs with the needs of mobile people to generate mutual benefits.

US pavilion dimensions citizenship
image © designboom

 

 

cosmos | design earth

 

‘cosmorama’ presents three ‘geo-stories’ — mining the sky, planetary ark, and pacific cemetery — that speculate on the legal geography of citizenship and ask how we should reckon with the epic and frontier narratives that have fueled space exploration and projects for off-planet settlement.

US pavilion dimensions citizenship
image © designboom

 

 

these geographic fictions render visible important matters unaccounted for in the technological triumphalism and frontier narratives of the space age. they project some of humanity’s present environmental and political hopes and fears, and bring forth these same systems and their attributes as generators of a renewed planetary imagination.

US pavilion dimensions citizenship
image © tom harris, courtesy of SAIC and UChicago

US pavilion dimensions citizenship
image © designboom

 

 

venice architecture biennale golden lion

designboom’s coverage of the 2018 venice architecture biennale is in partnership with leading energy company edison. edison is taking part in the 16th international architecture exhibition of la biennale di venezia by initiating a path towards sustainability and the efficient use of resources. the collaboration between edison and la biennale is based on awareness that energy is one of the fundamental elements of architecture and of the places, spaces and cities of contemporary life.

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