It’s shortly after the opening of UABB/SZ 2017 that I have an appointment with Liu Xiaodu, member of the curatorial team (together with his partner at Urbanus, Meng Yan, and famous art curator, Hou Hanru). We meet in the temporary library of the UABB, a space to sit and read about contributors and their contributions to this seventh iteration. His biennial is dedicated to the quality of diversity; Cities, Grow in Difference, it’s called. I explain that Volume is working on the theme of technology as a push factor in the spatial and social arrangements of our society and what role architectural design and the designer could have. As well as the divide between ‘coders’ and architects. It hits a sweet spot in Liu Xiaodu.
As supplement to Volume #54: On Biennials, we published a catalogue of the first seven Bi-City Biennales of Urbanism\Architecture (Shenzhen). Juan Du, one of its curators and contributors from the first one on reflects in this publication on the conditions that surrounded the start of this biennial.
“Hundreds of thousands get made,
blood, sweat and editorial tears go into them, yet barely a whimper is told about their relative merits.”
As curator of the Dutch pavilion in Venice last year, Marina Otero had to confront the complexities of a biennial, the Venice one in particular. General theme, individual content, format, design, audiences, logistics, time-span, attention-span, it was all in the equation. Add to that the ambition to be relevant (more than an ad), and the puzzle is complete. How to survive the Biennale and still have fun?
As a sneak peak into our next issue Volume #54: On Biennials, we are glad to feature In Statu Quo: Structures of Negotiation; this article is based on the eponymous book of the curators Ifat Finkelman, Deborah Pinto Fdeda, Oren Sagiv, and Tania Coen-Uzzielli, whose topic Status quo was the theme of the Israeli Pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia.
It’s been seven years since Daan Roggeveen and Michiel Hulshof published How the City Moved to Mr. Sun, the story of mass urbanization in China. It looked specifically at the mechanisms behind this phenomenon and the challenge to host the next 300 million people during the coming twenty years (starting from 2010). After Ole Bouman’s reflection on the Venice Architecture Biennale two weeks ago, this is the second prelude to Volume #54: On Biennials with a special on the UABB\Shenzhen.
While the 16th edition of the Architecture Biennale in Venice is coming to an end, Ole Bouman reflects on its success, addressing particularly the overwhelming beauty and charm of the city’s architecture.