Close, Closer

2013 Lisbon Architecture Triennale

As an investigation into the expanding forms of contemporary architectural practice, the premise of the third Lisbon Architecture Triennale was not to give answers but to position questions that through their sphere and context contain both a statement of intent and a call to action. Each exhibition and programme raises issues and new perspectives on the way architecture is commissioned, procured, mediated and understood today.

From 12 September-13 December 2013 Close, Closer was a three-month long event that included live theatre performances in public space, extraordinary installations, political debates, guerrilla actions, civic interventions, exhibition openings, project launches, film screenings, workshops, dinners and much more. Throughout the course of the Triennale, in Lisbon and all over the world, 100 self-initiated and self-funded Associated Projects collectively support the Triennale’s position on the plurality of spatial practice, through a myriad of exciting experimental and dispersed critique and practice across diverse disciplines and platforms.

Future Perfect curated by Liam Young was an exhibition set in a fictional future city that invites visitors to wander through its hybrid forests and digital landscapes to explore the possibilities and consequences of today’s emerging biological and technological research.

Future Perfect, Curated by Liam Young. Photograph by Catarina Botelho.

The Real and Other Fictions curated by Mariana Pestana brings back the past lives of a palace originating from the 17th century through spatial interventions that foster encounters between the site and the visitor. Departing from historical facts, the works construct ideological fictions, materialised in real spaces and programmes to be used by the public.

The Institute Effect co-curated with Dani Admiss invites 12 global institutions of architecture and culture to Lisbon, creating a rotating residency programme of events, talks, debates and performances that pay homage to the contemporary institution. Intended as a changing stream of activity, a roster of pioneering institutions will effectively use the “Institute” as an embassy.

On a theatrical civic stage, New Publics curated by José Esparza presents a radical programme of speech acts, body acts, city acts and pedagogical acts including a public theatre and frames the powerful tool of voice as the main medium through which we create civic spaces. In addition, ten Crisis Buster grants for public, problem-solving projects have been awarded and are already in action across the city from newspapers to community kitchens.

Curated by Beatrice Galilee, the third incarnation of the triennale asks what architecture could be, or mean, or do. In a city that is being battered by the economic crisis, it seems timely to present the alternatives to building, reassert the architect as an agent of change; to engage the public in a debate about what they need, and for architects to find solutions in increasingly bleak circumstances.
Owen Pritchard, ICON Magazine