May 28, 2016 - Nov 27, 2016


Biennale Architettura 2016 - International Exhibition

Biennale Architettura 2016 - Special Projects


A Special Project of the 15th International Architecture Exhibition realised by La Biennale di Venezia. Curated by LSE Cities , it is part of the Urban Age programme (jointly organised by the London School of Economics and Political Science and Deutsche Bank’s Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft). The exhibition has been developed in the context of Habitat III, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development that was held in Quito, Ecuador on 17-20 October 2016.

The fact that the United Nations' Habitat III conference on sustainable urbanisation will be held in Quito in October 2016 has encouraged us to reflect on the key relationship between public and private spaces in great cities across the globe. This reflection has given rise to a collaboration with LSE Cities and the Urban Age, based at the London School of Economics and Political Science, which has generated both the exhibition presented in this pavilion and the organisation of the Urban Age conference in Venice on 14-15 July 2016.

Paolo Baratta
President of La Biennale di Venezia

Responding to Alejandro Aravena’s call-to-arms on the battle for a better built environment, the exhibition provides a view from the front-line of cities. Like national pavilions that describe the ‘fight they face at home’, the cities pavilion will provide the visitor to the Biennale Architettura with insights on the major trends and conflicts experienced today in the urban realm.

In the short time span of 25 years, cities have grown larger and more quickly than ever before. Fishing villages have been transformed into megacities and deserts have become urban playgrounds. The speed and scale of this transformation is unprecedented. Every hour more than 50 new residents are added to the populations of cities like Kinshasa and Dhaka.

New city forms are emerging with profound social and environmental consequences for billions of urban dwellers. Instant cities of immense fragility and precariousness appear overnight, while others struggle to invest and plan urban futures able to adapt and change in response to unknown needs, pressures and desires.

Building cities for a billion people over the next decades is an opportunity to plan to get things right by accommodating future growth, or to get them wrong by imposing inflexible solutions. Some cities have grasped the opportunity to plan and grow more equitably, others have suffered sprawl and unplanned growth.

Research in 186 cities shows that the population has more than doubled, but their footprints have increased almost five-fold in just 25 years. Density has dropped and open space reduced. In Africa and Asia, where 90% of this growth will take place, most urban development remains poorly regulated or unplanned.

Ricky Burdett
Curator, Report From Cities: Conflicts of an Urban Age
Professor of Urban Studies, London School of Economics and Director LSE Cities and Urban Age


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