While the streets of big cities in Brazil are buzzing with political unrest and even riots, the tenth architecture biennale of São Paulo was opened on 12 October. The New Institute and the Rotterdam office Crimson Architectural Historians have organized a series of debates, presentations and meetings for this biennial called Track Changes. In a public but intimate setting the changes societies go through in periods of economic, political or social crises and the role architects and urbanists can play in these will be discussed. The debates will take place on 4, 5 and 6 November.
An international group of architects, city planners, economists, architectural historians and critics will discuss whether a small-scale, participation-oriented way of working can offer relevant answers to current economic, political and social questions, or that they on the contrary should be designing large scale infrastructure, masterplans and services. Through publicly comparing and discussing concrete projects from five different continents the participants will try to find common ground and in that way try to make design socially significant and politically relevant again. “In four days of open discussions, we'll explore what we have in common, but not without first precisely defining our differences,” say the Crimson historians. “Perhaps our most important ambition is to bring architecture and city planning out of the academic ghettos and the black boxes of politics and the market and return them to the centre of public debate.”
The participating professionals will discuss specific projects as they relate to issues raised by Crimson. Three discussions will take place: We the People, on the democratic value of master plans, particularly the new one formulated for São Paulo; What’s Your Crisis?, on how a sudden lack of financial resources, political crises and dramatic social changes are forcing architects to reevaluate their way of working; and Bottom-Up Is Not Enough, on how bottom-up projects can exceed their small scale and become integrated into top-down plans.
Invited guests are Guus Beumer (director, The New Institute), René Boer (Failed Architecture), Fernando Botton (URBZ), Elma van Boxel (ZUS), Milton Braga (MMBB), José Armênio de Brito Cruz (president Instituto de Architetos do Brasil/SP), Eduardo Andrade de Carvalho (developer, MOBY Incorporadora), Mariana Fix (economist and urbanist, University of Campina ), Ana Carla Fonseca (economist and urbanist, Garimpo de Soluções), Fernando de Mello Franco (São Paulo’s councillor for urban development), Rupali Gupte & Prassad Shetty (CRIT), Charles Holland (FAT), Ana Luiza Nobre (architectural historian, curator X Bienal), Luís Pompeo (23 Sul), Michelle Provoost & Wouter Vanstiphout (Crimson), Damon Rich (urban designer for the City of Newark, New Jersey), Nanne de Ru (Powerhouse Company), Sofia Saavedra Bruno (Supersudaca), Jan- Gijs Schouten (Netherlands Consul General) and Carlos Teixeira (Vazio S/A/) and Urban Think Tank.
The debates and their outcomes can be followed online at trackchanges.thenewinstitute.nl and on Twitter at #trackchanges. A publication containing the outcomes and conclusions of the discussions will be published in December.
Programme Track Changes
- Monday 4 November - Opening and We the People (1.30pm, door 1pm) - Followed by a festive cocktail offered by the Dutch Consulate General (5pm)
- Tuesday 5 November - What’s Your Crisis? (1.30pm)
- Wednesday 6 November - Bottom-Up Is Not Enough (1.30pm)
Location: Centro Cultural São Paulo, Rua Vergueiro 1000, CEP 01504–000, Paraiso, São Paulo, SP
Follow online: trackchanges.thenewinstitute.nl
X São Paulo Architecture Biennale
Track Changes comprises part of the X São Paulo Architecture Biennale, which this year takes as its central theme City: How to Make, How to Use. The Biennale will focus on the conscious engagement of professionals and how it relates to our collective responsibility for making cities function smoothly. xbienaldearquitetura.org.br
Crimson Architectural Historians
Crimson Architectural Historians also explores the subject of engagement in the exhibition The Banality of Good: Six Decades of New Towns, Architects, Money and Politics which can be seen simultaneously at the X Biennale. Since 1994 Crimson has developed a hybrid practice that takes the city as its object of study and as a starting point for research, critique, design, advice and the organisation and development of architectural and urban projects. www.crimsonweb.org
The New Institute
The New Institute launches a multiyear exhibition, research and studio programme in autumn 2013. The New Institute arose out of a merger between the Netherlands Architecture Institute; Premsela, the Netherlands Institute for Design and Fashion; and Virtueel Platform, the e-culture knowledge institute. www.thenewinstitute.nl
The Netherlands contribution to the X São Paulo Architecture Biennale is organized by The New Institute at the invitation of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.
For more information, interviews and visual material, please contact: Martine Willekens or Karina Smrkovsky, The New Institute, +31 (0)10 440 1200, firstname.lastname@example.org.