the german pavilion presents ‘open for maintenance’
Venice Architecture Biennale 2023: This year, the German Pavilion presents ‘Open for Maintenance’, an inspiring concept dedicated to matters of care, repair, and upkeep. Curated by ARCH+, SUMMACUMFEMMER, and Büro Juliane Greb, the pavilion is squatted in the Giardini through a series of maintenance works that render visible the processes of spatial and social care typically hidden from the public eye.
‘The concept also sheds light on contemporary debates over existing building stock in the context of sustainability and resource conservation from a historical and social perspective: during the 1970s and 1980s, the social practice of maintaining urban fabric by the squatters’ movement in Berlin made an important contribution toward developing a more cautious approach to urban renewal, and thus to the conservation of urban communities and built environments. This precedent demonstrates that ecological sustainability is inextricably linked to the social question,’ Writes the curating team.
all images © ARCH+, SUMMACUMFEMMER, Büro Juliane Greb
Squatting, maintaining, and repurposing left-over materials
To squat and maintain the German pavilion, you must first take it over as is. Rather than dismantling Maria Eichhorn’s work ‘Relocating a Structure’, Germany’s contribution to the Biennale Arte 2022, the curators have actively engaged with the artist to incorporate her project into the Pavilion’s new design. Working with an ‘as found’ mindset emphasizes the discursive, material, and economic aspects of sustainability. This is how. Biennale Arte 2022 The following are some examples of how to get started: Biennale Architettura 2023 First time, spatial and programmatic interweaving is achieved.
The same guiding principle is applied across the entire project—the Pavilion’s exhibition itself will be realized entirely with leftover material from last year’s Biennale Arte 2022; over 40 national pavilions are lending support, making demolition material from their exhibitions available for reuse. ‘This integration of ‘spolia’ as part of a new material assemblage creates surprising new contexts of meaning and imparts unique cultural and creative value to the leftover materials. ‘Open for Maintenance’ thus takes a creative angle toward the resource problem presented by biennales, which leave behind hundreds of tons of trash every year. The contribution’s practice-oriented approach opens up exciting modes of action and alternative design possibilities for architecture, contributing to its social renewal,’ The team continues to work.
‘Open for Maintenance’ entrance sign
FROM EXHIBITION TO HABITATION
Tying into the subject selected by this year’s Biennale curator Lesley Lokko, ‘The Laboratory of the Future’, the German contribution understands the concept of the ‘laboratory’ in a multi-faceted way—including as a workshop in the literal sense. Inspired by Venetian activist Marco Baravalle’s slogan ‘From Exhibition to Habitation’, the project transforms a site of national representation into a place of communal every day practice.
All built interventions for the Pavilion will be oriented towards local needs. This project will ultimately become a productive infrastructure, promoting principles of circular construction in tandem with architecture’s social responsibility. This project will be used to collect, catalogue, distribute, and process materials that were part of the Biennale Arte. An onsite workshop will form the basis for various activist groups from Venice and beyond and for universities to engage, through one-on-one interventions, with the maintenance of socio-spatial structures.
The German Pavilion as an archive of material
In addition to the question of resources, ‘Open for Maintenance’ deals with questions of social and spatial inclusion in Venice. Hundreds of the city’s public housing units stand empty or in disrepair, while many inhabitants of the lagoon city can no longer afford to live there. The commercialization of urban spaces through mass tourism and events such as biennales and festivals has led to the disappearance of everyday life and networks of material and social maintenance geared towards the welfare of all. This has led to a number of activist groups tackling the issue in a practical way.
‘Open for Maintenance’ offers these actors a platform: for the entire duration of this year’s Biennale Architettura 2023, they will have the opportunity to engage critically with its format The following are some examples of how to get started: with architecture as a discipline through a series of workshops featuring interventions within the Pavilion as well as Venice’s urban space. The workshop program, ‘Maintenance 1:1’, will be implemented in cooperation with Sto-Stiftung and AIT-Dialog as part of the ‘Venice Biennale Lab’ series, hosting universities, vocational schools, and initiatives from Venice and beyond. During the Biennale Architettura 2023 the Goethe Institut will act as the German Pavilion’s programming partner, addressing further aspects of the curatorial concept through its program series ‘Performing Architecture’, which will feature artistic and performative projects on topics such as inclusion, care work, and urban practice.