The Belgian Pavilion has released details and theme about its exhibition at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice Architecture Biennale 2023.
Themed as In Vivo, the Belgian Pavilion, curated by young architects Bento and philosopher and psychologist Vinciane Despret, will explore the architect’s new relationship with resources.
Taking to the extractivist production into the core of the exhibition, In Vivo will aim to reinterrogate our system of extractivist approach by identifying and developing construction alternatives which have resulted in using materials derived from living organisms and the imagery that accompanies them.
The pavilion will feature a large-scale installation that displays experiments with natural, living materials, including raw earth and mycelium (the vegetative part of fungi), while the Pavilion catalogue will explore our future condition in light of this little-known world.
Besides the exhibition and the catalogue, the pavilion will also play host to one or more one-off events so that the curators can broaden their approach through practical experiments such as workshops and debates.
Fragment nø16 – Dessin. Image courtesy of Bento
“We envisage our exhibition as a kind of workshop, a laboratory”
In response to Lesley Lokko’s theme, The Laboratory of the Future, the curators said that “More than buildings, forms, materials or structures, it is architecture’s ability to alter how we see the world that is its most precious and powerful gift.”
“We envisage our exhibition as a kind of workshop, a laboratory where architects and practitioners across an expanded field of creative disciplines draw out examples from their contemporary practices that chart a path for the audience — participants and visitors alike — to weave through, imagining for themselves what the future can hold.”
The curators have turned the Belgian Pavilion into a place where alternative resources from the world of construction can be experienced in a sensitive way and where the development process of some of them can be played out.
In the central room, visitors will encounter with natural, living materials and the installation of panels of mycelium (the vegetative part of fungi) in a spectacular wooden structure measuring 12 meter in length, 6 meter in width and 6 meter in height, which sits on a floor made of raw earth from excavated soil.
Sarah Buono et le fragment de mycelium-Dessin. Image courtesy of Bento
Through this installation, visitors will be able to experience the sensory, tactile, acoustic and poetic characteristics of these materials.
The curators will use the mycelium, wood and earth stemming from the urban area of Brussels with a view to an ultra-local, sustainable supply.
Referring to the circular economy and sustainable principles, the structure has been designed to be specifically dismantled and its elements so that it will be given a second life in Venice by the local company Re-Biennale. Especially, the structure has been appointed to assemble and dismantle during the Biennale.
“With the adjoining rooms dedicated to the process of experimentation and fabrication of the installation created by Bento, the installation is akin to one of the “laboratories of the future” that the curator Lesley Lokko has called for in this 18th edition,” said the Belgian Pavilion.
“It is an open door to another way of creating architecture, based on local resources, which is conducive to the emergence and development of new channels for living materials in Belgium and beyond.”
Bento and Vinciane Despret. Image courtesy of Belgian Pavilion
As the curators said, the catalogue will be presented as a narrative of anticipation that the advent of the ‘mycelocene’, a new era characterized by the recognition of sponges and their relationship with humans, and will take as its starting point the proposal made in 2023 by the Bento architects by looking at the possibilities it opens up.
Based on clues and fragments collected by Christine Aventin and Vinciane Despret, this investigation will bring together a variety of archives, including correspondence, extracts from mycological and philosophical texts, an anthropologist’s field notebooks, and reports by psychologists, historians and experts in therolinguistics (the discipline that studies non-human languages and literature).
Architecture vivante. Image courtesy of Bento
“The text evokes the entanglement of mycelium networks that are at the heart of the research on materials exhibited at the Belgian Pavilion of the Venice Architecture Biennale in the form of a heterogeneous, non-linear whole that brings together current scientific research and fictional proposals,” the pavilion added.
Image courtesy of Sonian
“Enviable alternatives for our territories”
“How can we rethink architecture in a world of finite resources? [We propose experimenting with enviable alternatives for our territories, our cities, alternatives that would be forged with and from the living beings who inhabit them and are their constituent fabric,” said Bento and Vinciane Despret.
“These experiments would in essence only extend, expand, and even honour the multiple (and often neglected) arrangements by and between humans and non-humans, the living and non-living […]”
“The “In vivo” pavilion will provide a time and a place for critical thinking, particularly because questions of responsibility, of taking into account other beings and of justice will be discussed in relation to living and structures.”
“Its strength however will be defined above all by concrete and inventive proposals for an enviable future of living, for which the territory of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation will serve as a starting point for thinking, listing, affirming, confirming, revoking, planning, fantasizing and above all dreaming,” Bento and Vinciane Despret added.
Prototypage de la structure du pavillons. Image courtesy of Bento
The “In Vivo” proposal was selected unanimously by the panel from among the 19 applications that were submitted in response to the call for projects. The narrative was judged to be clear and committed, with an original constructive approach.
The pavilion was made in collaboration with Corentin Mahieu, Juliette Salme, Corentin Mullender, Permafungi, BC Materials, Sonian Wood Coop.
Several pavilions announced their themes and details for the 2023 Venice Architecture Biennale, such as Gabriela De Matos and Paulo Tavares were announced as the curators of the Brazilian Pavilion, the Danish Pavilion will explore Coastal Imaginaries curated by Josephine Michau.
Plan Venice. Image courtesy of Bento
More recently, the Korean Pavilion announced its theme, 2086: Together How?, the Austrian Pavilion presented its theme PARTECIPAZIONE / BETEILIGUNG, the Spanish Pavilion presented its theme Foodscapes at the Venice Architecture Biennale, the Polish Pavilion will present Datament, the Türkiye Pavilion will present Ghost Stories: The Carrier Bag Theory of Architecture.
Moreover, the Bulgarian Pavilion will explore Education is the Movement from Darkness to Light and the Hungarian Pavilion will present Reziduum – The Frequency of Architecture at this year’s biennale.
The Venice Architecture Biennale 2023 will take place from Saturday 20 May to Sunday 26 November, 2023 at the Arsenale and Giardini venues.
The theme of the 18th Venice Architecture Biennale is The Laboratory of the Future curated by Lesley Lokko.
Top image courtesy of Bento.
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Venice Architecture Biennale