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May 16, 2023

The 18th Venice Biennale of Architecture opening on May 20, 2023 features a strong representation of Columbia GSAPP affiliates. The School’s faculty, students, and alumni are participating through installations and curatorial projects in the main biennale exhibition at the Giardini and Arsenale, at various national pavilions, as well as parallel projects held throughout Venice. Curated by Lesley Lokko, the Biennale exhibition, The Laboratory of the Future, is on view from May 20 through November 26, 2023.

“We have deliberately chosen to frame participants as ‘practitioners’ and not ‘architects’ and/or ‘urbanists’, ‘designers’, ‘landscape architects’, ‘engineers’ or ‘academics’ because it is our contention that the rich, complex conditions of both Africa and a rapidly hybridizing world call for a different and broader understanding of the term ‘architect,’” said curator Lesley Lokko.

As part of the opening events, the School’s imprint Columbia Books on Architecture and the City (CBAC) is celebrating the launch of Sketches on Everlasting Plastics, an editorial intervention and ongoing collaboration with SPACES, the commissioner of the US Pavilion under the theme Everlasting Plastics, on May 20, 9:30am at the Serra dei Giardini in Venice. This first iteration of this editorial project accompanies the exhibition to unfold a discursive map of the histories, urgencies, relations, and preoccupations attendant to the show.

SPECIAL PROJECTS: MNEMONIC (Arsenale, Artiglierie)

“unknown, unknown,” a Curator’s Special Project by GSAPP Professor Mabel O. Wilson ‘91 M.Arch, J. Meejin Yoon, and Eric Höweler in collaboration with Josh Begley and Gene Han ‘22 MArch is an immersive installation that constructs a space of light and sound to remember the unnamed and named members of the enslaved community at the University of Virginia (UVA) in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. The project overview states, “the installation explores the archival absence and erasure of approximately 4,000 unknown and known community members who built, worked, and maintained the university from 1817 to 1865. In contrast to the West’s typical stone or bronze monument form that uses figures, names, and dates to compose timeless historical narratives, “unknown, unknown” constructs an ephemeral sonic, visual, and haptic memorial of this enslaved community. The immersive installation acknowledges the vast scope of racial violence that made Black men, women, and children less than human to become property owned, rented, and sold by the academical village’s residents. By forming a counter archive of imagery and sounds, “unknown, unknown” re-humanizes this community by rendering their unknowability into moments of refuge and spaces of liberation.”

DANGEROUS LIAISONS (Arsenale, Corderie)

“Ghebbi” by GSAPP Assistant Professor Emanuel Admassu ‘12 MSAAD ‘13 AAR and Jen Wood '12 MSAAD of AD—WO takes its name from an Amharic word that connotes a territory surrounded by a wall of fence; a zone of respite and relative stability carved out of an errant and restless city. The project overview states, “each tapestry functions as a ‘time-scape,’ collapsing formal and material articulations of the Ghebbi. A deteriorating brick wall of the Arsenale is clad with bamboo scaffolding and lined with a tarpaulin that is tethered to the frame with rope, evoking the scaffolding that covers countless construction sites in Addis Ababa and the ongoing erasure of the Ghebbi”

“XHOLOBENI YARDS: Titanium and the Planetary Making of SHININESS/ DUSTINESS” by Dean Andrés Jaque’s Office for Political Innovation reflects on how New York’s high-end architecture is produced from distant, materials, bodies, and knowledge. The project overview states, “in New York, the stainless steel facade of Hudson Yards is made possible through the massive mobilization of the chromite extracted from the earth of the Great Dyke of Zimbabwe. Its shine is produced by the abrasive capacity of ilmenite from Xholobeni’s ground in South Africa. The act of building above the railways, the single operation that provided the ground on which this part of New York now stands, would have been impossible without the cobalt extracted from the Nyungu mines of Zambia. Even the blueness of the sky as seen from the interiors of Hudson Yards depends on the massive use of catalyzers New York City regulations impose, which are only made possible using platinum extracted from eighty-nine platinum mines in South Africa. Hudson Yards, in New York, is thus fundamentally grounded in transnational extractivism.”

“Workshopping the Chattahoochee” by GSAPP Professor Kate Orff’s firm SCAPE Landscape Architecture focuses on the Chattahoochee Riverlands project. The project overview states, “building from over four decades of community planning, remediation, and grassroots environmental justice advocacy, this generational effort to reconnect Atlanta with its major river, the Chattahoochee, is just beginning to take form. Overlaid across 125 miles of diverse territory, spanning downtown, suburban fringe, agricultural fields, and intact forests, the Chattahoochee Riverlands stitches accessible bikeways and greenways, micro-parks, and rocky overlooks into the existing urban-rural fabric, connecting over one million residents to each other and to an immersive riverine landscape.”

“Tectonic Shifts” by Wolff Architects, co-founded by GSAPP Visiting Assistant Professor Ilze Wolff and Heinrich Wolff, “explores the diversity of themes pursued by the office through the metaphor of a geological section. “Like a series of soil profiles, the installation comprises vertical bands; at the top at significant current drawings, films, or photos, and below these are the layers which are precursors of this work. At the base of each vertical section are the collective subconscious and themes of the various people who collaborate as or with Wolff.” The pavilion was awarded a special mention “for an installation that reflects a collaborative and multimodal design practice as well as a nuanced and imaginative approach to resources, research, and representation.”

Yolande Daniels ‘90 MArch, co-founding design principal of studioSUMO, is presenting “The BLACK City Astrolabe: A Constellation of African Diasporic Women.”

The Chicago-based Sweet Water Foundation, co-founded by Emmanuel Pratt ‘03 MSAUD, is presenting work in Dangerous Liaisons.

FORCE MAJEURE (Giardini, Central Pavilion)

Recent Faculty Kabage Karanja and Stella Mutegi of Cave_bureau presented “Oral Archive (New Age Africana).“ They stated, “we choose to celebrate the original African archives, passed down from generation to generation, using stories, songs, dance, and poetry. These archives were held together by our custodians of culture who conjured narratives and events that were both real and imagined … For the Laboratory of the Future, we present our oral-architectural praxis, opening our film and audio archive through the display of community engagements that are often held within natural settings such as caves and forests.”


Columbia Books on Architecture and the City (CBAC) is publishing Sketches on Everlasting Plastics, an editorial intervention and ongoing collaboration with the curators of the US Pavilion, Tizziana Baldenebro and Lauren Leving. The exhibition Everlasting Plastics explores our fraught, yet enmeshed, kinship with plastics, and considers the ways these materials both shape and erode contemporary ecologies, economies, and the built environment. Learn more and register for the event here.

“Terra [Earth],” Brazil’s National Pavilion at the 2023 Venice Biennale of Architecture curated by GSAPP Visiting Assistant Professor Paulo Tavares and Gabriela de Matos, received the Golden Lion for Best National Participation “for a research exhibition and architectural intervention that center the philosophies and imaginaries of indigenous and black population towards modes of reparation.” The project overview states, “under the title Terra, the representation of the Brazilian Pavilion at the Biennale Architettura 2023 proposes to rethink the past in order to design possible futures. Terra as ancestry and memory, as well as becoming. Terra as soil, ground, territory; but also in its global and cosmic dimensions, as common home for all life, human and non-human.” Read more on Metalocus and ArchDaily.

"The South Korean Pavilion 2086: Together How? curated by Soik Jung and Kyong Park includes "Migrating Futures” by N H D M co-founders and Adjunct Associate Professors Nahyun Hwang and David Eugin Moon. The project investigates the historical and contemporary geographies of diverse diaspora communities and transnational migrant workers within Korea and across Asia. Read more here.

Carlos Mínguez Carrasco '12 MSCCCP is co-curating the Nordic Pavilion with James Taylor Foster, which features a long-term collaborative project titled Girjegumpi by artist and architect Joar Nango.

The Chinese Pavilion Renewal: a symbiotic narrative curated by Ruan Xing includes work by Ziyu Zhuang '07 MSAUD as well as Yuchen Guo '16 MArch, Siqi Yang '16 MArch, Boyuan Jiang '16 MArch, and Jingwen Wang '16 MArch.

The Spanish Pavilion Foodscapes curated by Eduardo Castillo-Vinuesa and Manuel Ocaña del Valle features work by Marina Otero Verzier ’13 MSCCCP and Urtzi Grau ’04 MSAAD.


An interdisciplinary group of GSAPP students including Sarah Abdallah (MSUP), Aroosa Ajani (MSUP), Michelle Chen (AAD), Tung Yi Lam (MSRED), Antonia Salisbury (MSRED), and Chao Qun Zhang (MArch) from the Spring 2023 PropTech Seminar led by James Orlando are presenting the exhibition SEEING GREEN as part of the European Cultural Centre’s Time Space Existence exhibit at the Palazzo Mora. The work was developed as part of an exercise co-led by Orlando and Patrice Derrington in collaboration with the Joint Architecture and Real Estate Development Studio led by Derrington and Christoph a. Kumpusch. The immersive spatial experience showcases the possibilities of using Web3 environments (specifically Midjourney AI) for the design exploration, engagement of potential inhabitants, and validation of outcomes when implementing new building technologies and materials for improved environmental sustainability. View an excerpt of the project here.

WXY Studio, co-led by Associate Professor of Professional Practice Adam Lubinsky, is participating in an exhibition as part of the European Cultural Centre’s exhibition “Time Space Existence” at the Giardini Della Marinaressa that showcases “Palaver Bench,” an innovative seating solution that aims to foster communication among individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds and communities.

The Center for Art, Research and Alliances (CARA) is celebrating a book release of “Where is Africa”, a text edited by Assistant Professor Emanuel Admassu '12 MSAAD '13 AAR and Anita N. Bateman, on May 20 at 5pm at the Giardini della Marinaressa - Ponente in Venice. Book contributors include GSAPP Professors Mabel O. Wilson and Mario Gooden.

Ian Benjamin Callender ’24 MArch is exhibiting an installation as part of the European Cultural Centre’s exhibition “Time Space Existence” at Palazzo Mora which features concept-driven explorations of new media/digital technologies embedded within and as mediators of the architectural and urban.

Work by Habitat Workshop, led by Jieun Yang ’08 M.Arch, is featured in the European Cultural Centre’s exhibition “Time Space Existence.“

Design Earth is celebrating a book launch for Climate Inheritance with a conversation among Design Earth (Rania Ghosn and El Hadi Jazairy), Irene Sunwoo, and Brendan Cormier on May 20 at 2pm at Giardini della Marinaressa. The book includes three framing essays by Associate Professor Lucia Allais and Visiting Professor David Gissen together with Colin Sterling and Rodney Harrison.

More Information
The 18th Venice Biennale of Architecture, The Laboratory of the Future, curated by Lesley Lokko and organized by La Biennale di Venezia.