In 2016 I had the privilege to visit the Venice Architecture Biennale, curated by public interest architect, Alejandro Aravena. The next Biennale, themed ‘Freespace’ is set to open this weekend, running from May 26 through Nov 25. Here are 10 tips which I learned from planning my own trip.
- Plan for at least two days. The Biennale is located in two areas, the Giardini and the Arsenale. Dedicate at least one day to each area. You could also take an extra day for the individual country pavilions (located around the Giardini main hall) or to visit some of the Collateral Events, which are affiliated exhibits around Venice.
- Closed on Mondays. The Biennale is closed most Mondays, so plan accordingly! I spent it sightseeing – tons to see in Venice – but you may or may not want to do that. See hours in the 2018 brochure.
- Consider the off season. I went in November just before it closed which was far less expensive than the busy summer months. Venice is moody, misty, and quiet then.
- Dress for the weather. Besides maybe two of the cafes, none of the Biennale exhibit spaces are conditioned, so if it’s chilly dress warm. (I wish I had brought my warm winter coat!)
- No need for rain boots. Venice floods with high tides, called an Acqua Alta, but it does not last long and the city is quick to add raised walkways so you can get to where you need to without trudging through water.
- Pack thoughtfully. Venice is very walkable and there are no cars, only boats, so it is challenging to get your stuff to the hotel. There are lots of steps and bridges that are not rolling bag friendly.
- Buy the books online. Luckily the Biennale books are available online! You don’t have to haul heavy books around all day or find room in your suitcase for them. Plus the exhibits have some paper and poster take aways that you may want some room for.
- Stay in the Castello neighborhood. We stayed at the Hotel Metropole which was very walkable to both the Arsenal and Giardini plus the major tourist sights. It also was close to boats to and from the airport and train stations. Many hotels also include breakfast.
- Save time at the Biennale Cafes. There were cafes at both the Arsenale and Giardini. I had a delicious chicken curry with couscous at the Giardini cafe – not a true taste of Venice but I found it better to not have to leave the Biennale exhibits and trek out to lunch. Assume there will be crowds as there are with most things in Venice and opt for dinners out at some of the fabulous restaurants around town.
- Don’t miss this by Carlo Scarpa! To the left as you walk out of the entrance of the Giardini.
March 24 & 25, 2017 at AIA Headquarters in Washington DC.
Design professionals will learn skills and methods to pro-actively engage in community-based design through fee-based practice. Instructors and special guest speakers will present in-depth case studies of the community and client engagement processes and the outcomes of their award-winning Public Interest Design projects. Successful completion of this two-day intensive Public Interest Design Institute qualifies attendees for 11.5 AIA (HSW) CEUs or ASLA PDHs and certification as a SEED Professional. Preliminary agenda.
Learning objectives include:
- Finding new clients and public interest design projects
- Learning about new fee sources and structures
- Learning methods of working with a community as a design partner
- Leveraging other partners and assets to address project challenges
- Maximizing a project’s positive impact on a community
- Moving beyond LEED to measure positive social, economic, & environmental impact
- Understanding public interest design and how it is re-shaping professional practice
This two-day intensive course is presented by Design Corps, the SEED Network,
AIA National, and the M.S. in Sustainable Design Program at the CUA.
New York based developer, Jonathan F. P. Rose, released his new book, The Well-Tempered City with a book signing and presentation at an Urban Land Institute event in DC. Known for his affordable housing work, Rose emphasizes the importance of balancing social, economic, and environmental factors in development.
He sees the city as complex network and urges those of us who work on the built environment to approach our work as a circle of engagements and adjustments rather than as a simplified linear path. In his talk as well as in his book, Rose links together public health and the built environment, discussing the effects of adverse childhood experiences on society and the financial toll it takes on our cities. He also explains the toll our societal trends are taking on the environment, “98 percent of stuff that comes into the city leaves the city as waste in just 6 months.” Our planet cannot handle that. This book is about the value of public interest design, from the developer’s point of view.
Public interest designers may also be familiar with the Rose family through Enterprise Community Partners’ Rose Architectural Fellowship, which partners early-career architectural designers with local community development organizations, where they facilitate an inclusive approach to development to create green, sustainable, and affordable communities.
Image courtesy of [bc] website showing project Crossing the Street | Activating Ivy City
Texas based nonprofit community design center, buildingcommunityWORKSHOP
, or [bc] for short, has brought their talents to Washington DC. The organization seeks to improve the livability and viability of communities through the practice of thoughtful design and making.
We enrich the lives of citizens by bringing design thinking to areas of our cities where resources are most scarce. To do so, [bc] recognizes that it must first understand the social, economic, and environmental issues facing a community before beginning work.
Read more about their DC-based project Crossing the Street | Activating Ivy City.
Bryan Bell and Lisa M. Abendroth have published their new book called the Public Interest Design Practice Handbook: SEED Methodology, Case Studies, and Critical Issues.
Whether you are working in the field of architecture, urban planning, industrial design, landscape architecture, or communication design, this book empowers you to create community-centered environments, products, and systems.
Themes including public participation, issue-based design, and assessment are referenced throughout the book and provide benchmarks toward an informed practice. This comprehensive manual also contains a glossary, an appendix of engagement methods, a case study locator atlas, and a reading list.
Order your copy here. Read more on Impact Design Hub.
Jordan MacTavish via Harvard Magazine
Check out this article discussing public interest design past, present, and future, in Harvard Magazine’s March-April 2015 issue by Stephanie Garlock. (Thanks for sharing Public Architecture!)
Quotes from the article:
“When it [architecture] only becomes about sculpture, it loses the key asset of architecture, which is that it can add tremendous value to people’s lives.” – Michael Murphy
“I became very interested in the opportunities that the design of the built environment had for achieving social outcomes.” – John Peterson
“If you can find what the aspirations of a community are, and you can use the design process to bring that forward, then you can do extraordinary things with your discipline.” – Maurice Cox
Photos by Jeff Goldberg/Esto
Virginia Tech students and their teachers, Keith and Marie Zawistowski, designed and built the Sharon Fieldhouse in the historic rail town of Clifton Forge. As part of the Design/BuildLAB, an experiential learning program at the Virginia Tech School of Architecture + Design, the teachers have developed a relationship with Clifton Forge and have built several projects there. Students collaborate with the community in order to create architecture that benefits the common good. As the group states on their webpage, they want students to understand the value of design and “make a difference in the life of a community”.
Read more in Architect magazine.