The Fabricated Landscape, a group exhibition opening June 26 at Carnegie Museum of Art’s Heinz Architectural Center in Pittsburgh, covers such vast geographic territory that visitors are likely to leave enlightened, inspired, and experiencing whiplash from the gallery-bound transcontinental travel.
That, of course, is by design in a show that features projects from, among others, a Bavarian architect working in Bangladesh, a Brooklyn-based studio with cofounders who are Chinese and Dutch by birth, and a triad of Latin America-based practices—from Mexico City, Santiago, and Medellin respectively—making positive impacts in their local communities.
“The exhibition’s goal,” Raymund Ryan, curator-at-large of the Heinz Architecture Center, explained to AN “is to showcase the plurality and diversity of the current global architectural landscape.”
“At Carnegie Museum of Art, our mission is to connect visitors to new ideas and experiences, so we’re thrilled to be able to present a cross-cultural architectural dialogue in The Fabricated Landscape” added the Ireland-born Ryan, who organized the exhibition. “In fact, each practice’s work is dispersed throughout the installation so as to have other architects’ work as new neighbors. It’s fascinating to see how these architects tackle similar problems with such disparate influences, techniques, and materials.”
In addition to the previously alluded to architecture practices and practitioners—Germany’s Anna Heringer and New York’s SO–IL, along with Frida Escobedo, UMWELT, and LCLA office, which also maintains a studio in Oslo—work by five other studios are showcased in The Fabricated Landscape: Assemble (London), Go Hasegawa (Tokyo), Anne Holtrop (Muharraq, Bahrain, and Amsterdam), MAIO (Barcelona), and OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen (Brussels.)
In total, three projects by each participating studio will be presented in The Fabricated Landscape through a range of mediums including photographs, textiles, paper reproductions, and more. This includes a large modular model created by Frida Escobedo’s office of a housing project in Saltillo, a city in northeastern Mexico, and a new suite of photos captured by Luisa Lambri of Go Hasegawa’s chapel in Guastalla, Italy. Some featured practices—a handful of them veterans of international architecture biennials who have never exhibited in a museum setting before—will be debuting new work for the first time in the United States.
While the globe-spanning nature of the studios and their featured projects is both notable and deliberate, The Fabricated Landscape was conceived as a survey of contemporary architecture that reacts to and engages with local communities and the natural world. “It refers to the considered construction of the 30 architectural projects featured, as well as how these projects relate to the surrounding environment,” Ryan said of the exhibition’s name. “It highlights how integral the environment is to each of the ten practices on view, both in terms of how it influences design and how architecture can serve its surrounding public.”
“The exhibition presents an emerging culture of architecture in which the smallest and most intimate of projects is connected to a vision of far more extensive landscapes and infrastructures” he added.
Age, as hinted at by Ryan in the above quote, also played a key role in his shaping of The Fabricated Landscape as all of the participating architects were born after 1975.
“This generation of architects takes an innovative approach to how their work engages with the public realm—it’s not about style or obtuse theory,” Ryan explained. “That emphasis on civic consciousness and how architecture can serve communities unites all ten of these practices. In their own ways, these younger architects embrace a new sense of urgency regarding nature and community and getting things made, whether they’re working on single-family houses or large-scale infrastructure and public spaces.”
“I believe there is a sense of adventure, community, and urgency—all three to various degrees and in various manifestations—to the work on show,” Ryan added, “whether it is something as immediate as helping a community upcycle found materials, as in with Assemble’s work at Granby Four Streets in Liverpool or UMWELT’s rethinking the complex intersectional ecology of a territory as vast as the Atacama Desert in the practice’s native Chile.”
In addition to spotlighting the work of Gen-X and Millennial architects, half of the designed practices featured in Fabricated Landscape are woman-led or have a woman principal, including Frida Escobedo, Anna Heringer, MAIO’s María Charneco and Anna Puigjaner, Charlotte Hansson at LCLA office, and Jing Liu of SO–IL. There’s also a special emphasis on Latin American practices as “global conversations about architecture have historically focused on European, Asian, and North American design studios,” said Ryan. The Heinz Architectural Center has looked south in recent past exhibitions such as 2016’s Building Optimism: Public Space in South America, also curated by Ryan. Other exhibitions at the Center over the past decade-plus, including in 2009, 2010, and 2012, have prominently featured Mexican architects.
“The Fabricated Landscape encourages visitors to think differently about the buildings and spaces they encounter in their communities or wherever they may travel in the future,” said Ryan. “We hope to encourage folks who might be about to start even the smallest of projects to think in creative ways as well as remind ourselves of the need to better understand and design for the intersection of the manmade and the natural.”
The Fabricated Landscape, as mentioned, opens June 26, and is on view at the Heinz Architectural Center through January 17, 2022. Those looking to embark on the round-the-world architectural journey should be advised that Carnegie Museum of Art is observing pandemic-appropriate health and safety precautions so travelers should plan ahead appropriately.