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Answering ‘How will we live together?’ at the Venice Biennale | Penn Today

After more than a year of delays, Penn faculty and students were able to participate in La Biennale di Venezia architectural exhibition with both virtual and physical submissions.

The World Park Project is a cooperative effort to create continuous, restored habitat for recreation and the protection of endangered species on a worldwide scale. The Project includes three trails: Australia to Morocco, Turkey to Namibia, and Alaska to Patagonia. (Image: Francesca Garzilli)
The World Park Project is a cooperative effort to create continuous, restored habitat for recreation and the protection of endangered species on a worldwide scale. The Project includes three trails: Australia to Morocco, Turkey to Namibia, and Alaska to Patagonia. (Image: Francesca Garzilli)

Winka Dubbeldam, Miller Professor and chair of graduate architecture in the Weitzman School

As part of the output for the Italian Virtual Pavilion, Dubbeldam also brought together the Penn architects in a LOG’rithmn panel, hosted by Cynthia Davidson, for an online conversation on “The Science of Architecture,” with goal of expanding the role of architecture in society and nature. “We are only going to be of value to society if we allow ourselves to push these boundaries,” she said during the panel, which took place in July. “Architects have been passive, and we need to start to become more proactive participants. It is important to understand that there is a difference in theoretical thinking and research in architecture versus other ways of pushing boundaries in practice.”

Panelists Dorit Aviv, Laia Mogas-Soldevila, Karel Klein, Kolatan, Masoud Akbarzadeh, and Robert Stuart-Smith showed animations of their work and discussed the essential role of research in their work, how science can help architects understand and explore new approaches to their work, and what it takes to be both speculative creator and realizer. Specific topics discussed include bio- and geometric-inspired designs, thermodynamics, neural networks, and embedded aesthetics that demonstrated how one could see the science of architecture in the largest possible scope.

Dubbeldam says that the event was a “great cross-disciplinary discussion” that allowed a wide range of scholars to talk and think about what research meant across the department and how to push existing boundaries. “It was great to see that the research was appreciated by colleagues of other architecture schools, and also we thought it was important to have the discussion afterwards,” she says. “While it was disappointing that we didn’t get to build at the Biennale itself, between the Virtual Pavilion and the panel discussion it was, in a strange way, almost more interesting on a whole different level.”

In August, another exhibition featuring work by Weitzman faculty, “FEEDback – It’s About Time!,” will open in Venice. Curated by Eric Goldemberg, it is a modified version of an exhibition organized by Florida International University in 2020 that explores the role of feedback—both instrumental and conceptual—as a critical part of the design process. The exhibition includes work from Ali Rahim, professor of architecture and director of the MSD-AAD program; Hina Jamelle, senior lecturer in architecture and director of urban housing; Kolatan; and Simon Kim, associate professor of architecture.

How can human and animal kind live together?

Currently on display at the Central Pavilion is an exhibit by Richard Weller, professor and chair of landscape architecture and co-executive director of The McHarg Center. “What we can’t live without” is a three-part exhibition that addresses the question “How will we live together?” from the lens of the relationship of humans and animal kind.

“Not the blue dot” is a 3D-printed replica of the Apollo 11 hatch that looks down at the Earth alongside instructions on how to reinhabit its remaining fragments. (Image: Richard Weller, Chieh Huang, and Tone Chu)
“Not the blue dot” is a 3D-printed replica of the Apollo 11 hatch that looks down at the Earth alongside instructions on how to reinhabit its remaining fragments. (Image: Richard Weller, Chieh Huang, and Tone Chu)

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