Lisbon Triennale's Emphasis on Experimentation Offers A Path for Architects

Lisbon Triennale's Emphasis on Experimentation Offers A Path for Architects

(Fernando García-Dory)

The 2013 Lisbon Architecture Triennale‘s emphasis on active workshops, networking and “research” projects rather than architectural set pieces often plays as live performative tableaus. The public focus of the exhibition is indeed an elevated stage in the city’s Praca da Figueira (Square of the Fig Tree) where architects are performing plays, encouraging civic engagement with public performances, and programming research workshops. Performance is also the operative scheme in another triennial initiative, The Institute Effect, that takes place the city’s Museum of Design.

The Museum of Design, headquartered in a spectacular bank space, has given its third floor over to 12 “global institutions of architecture and culture” that are meant to appear at different times during the three month triennial to create “bespoke programs” of talks, debates, hands on workshops, and performances.

The day of the opening the space was alive as the Italian firm, Fabrica, was designing and building out the space with tables, shelves,  pin-up boards, and graphic designers creating a Phaidon book. The idea here seems to be that as part of this performance activity the “audience” or visitors will be encouraged to intact with the twelve invited organizations (including the C.U.P., Storefront for Art and Architecture, the Strelka School, and the online and database group Spatial Agency) in their programs and together create a record of the event in an ebook.

The sort of experimentation and research-based projects featured in this triennial are exactly the sort of activities young firms should be engaging in—particularly in these perilous economic times—as they develop their practices. It’s exactly the path traveled by the next curator of the Venice Architecture Biennale, Rem Koolhaas.

(Lynton Pepper)