British Pavilion 16

Exhibition proposal for the British Pavilion at the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale 2016

The objective of the exhibition was to present a contemporary urban design method which may be characterised as Catch and Steer. Such urbanism may be understood as a two-fold activity: catching multiple desires and investment flows, steering them in such ways that they support and amplify each other. British pioneers, practices such as East, grounded this method in pragmatism, realism and locality versus rather than on idealism and form-making. They argue against the idea that within the apparent parallelizing non-plan situation of the city no urban interventions of any meaning can happen anymore.

Projects of this kind are very much process driven, lacking clear signature. In most cases an abundance of imagery is found rather than a reduced iconography. This sets demands to the way these projects are exhibited. Therefore, a mix of video and images was to be used, envisaging that five projects each fill one room in the British Pavilion. A video of the urban scenery after completion of the projects was projected on all walls. Smaller rectangular spots wer left ‘blank’, supplying the space for a limited amount of photographs, material samples, maps, etc that illustrate the different projects.

Naturally, an element of disarray in the ‘figure-ground’ relation between the exhibited object and its setting was looked for. Each room had its own colour nuance: the videos and the colour framing those videos were to be interdependent. Each room was coded differently- which is ultimately something hyper-architectural. The result was an installation which was evocative rather than explanatory and communicative rather than descriptive.

The proposal was made with Jan van Grunsven, based on HvdH’s research paper Catch and Steer, supported by the Creative Industrry Fund NL.