Belgian pavilion Biennale Architettura

For the Belgian pavilion at the Biennale Architettura 2020 (*postponed to 2021) in Venice, the Flanders Architecture Institute invites architects, urban planners, designers, researchers, critics and artists to develop an exhibition concept that responds to the theme of memory as a design studio.

Belgian pavilion Biennale Architettura

Memory as a design studio

Both open space and raw materials are rapidly dwindling. The era of their unfettered consumption is a thing of the past. It is increasingly important, therefore, to treat the existing situation with the utmost care. This is a fundamental reversal of the mindset that governed architectural training and practice in the 20th century. After a century of unbridled thinking about progress, it is clear that architecture as a discipline needs to be reviewed. It calls for a redefinition of the basic principles of the design, in which the existing and accumulated knowledge are brought into sharper focus. This new direction manifests itself at every scale level: from the design narrative and choice of materials to urban planning figures and landscape design. The frame of reference for new designs is formed by the history of landscapes and places, of building and design traditions, and of materials and ideas. The memory becomes a design studio.

The Belgian pavilion Biennale Architettura

We are looking for a project that presents the theme of ‘memory as a design studio’ in an innovative way within an exhibition, and which also possesses an integral vision on sustainability. In this way, the project will showcase forms of sustainability that run across generations and in which the present, past and future of places are interconnected. Different perspectives are possible: from adaptive re-use, architectural history as a raw material and as an applied science, critical restoration, weiterbauen and circular building to urban planning and landscape design that focuses on the longue durée of places. We are interested in strategies that deal with the frayed reality as a raw material, with intellectual history, immaterial meaning, materials, the spatial and historical context, the fabric, and with the underlying historical layers of the landscape. The most innovative practices are often a combination of all these strategies, and we suspect that they are the result of new collaborations between designers, clients, users, construction companies, developers and public authorities. Projects outside the usual frameworks provide us with the courage and ability to move towards new horizons. Convinced of the value of memory in sustainable working practices, we ask how we might write a story of the future that is interwoven with the deeper underlying history.The narrative of the project must be strongly substantiated and elaborated both theoretically and conceptually. At the same time, it should appeal to visitors in a direct way, with a strong visual and tangible installation in the Belgian pavilion. The message of the exhibition must be immediately readable or experienceable, while a more in-depth visit to the pavilion will tell an innovative story in which the question of memory as a design studio is examined and presented in an inspiring way.This call is aimed at multidisciplinary teams that approach the topic in all its varied facets. The selected entry will be closely followed-up by the Flanders Architecture Institute during the development of the concept.

Competition schedule

  • Phase 1 | Open call
    Call for a concise vision text and one illustration. The text and the image provide information about the substantive focus and the exhibition concept with a clear reference to the theme of memory as a design studio.

    Deadline Phase 1: 25 August 2019

  • Phase 2 | Closed competition, September - October 2019
    The assessment committee will select three teams and invite them to participate in ‘phase 2’. The teams will create a detailed exhibition concept.

    Deadline phase 2: 13 October 2019

  • Phase 3 | Execution, November 2019 - May 2020
    Selection of the winner, who will present their proposal in the Belgian pavilion at the 17th Biennale Architettura, and the commencement of the production process.

    Opening of the pavilion on 22 May 2021

The submission for ‘phase 1’ comprises:

• A short document with a text that clearly explains your proposal in a maximum of 1,500 words on two sides of A4 paper, written in Dutch and/or English.
• One illustration (sketch, photo, collage, ...) that serves as a visual interpretation of the concept.
• Three concise references/projects that contextualise the relevant expertise and skills.

PDF format A4 portrait or landscape, max 5MB, max. 5 pages, min. 72 dpi

The text must contain:

  • a clearly formulated vision of the broad significance of memory as a design studio.
  • an indication of the concrete angles of approach (architectural, urban planning, landscape, socio-cultural, historical and visual) with which it is associated.
  • the focus to which you respond within the broadly formulated theme.
  • an image that shows how this vision will be communicated in a powerful exhibition.
  • a clear description of the team and the disciplines that will be involved therein.
  • an indication of who will take primary responsibility for the project and the provision of a central contact point for the Flanders Architecture Institute.

It is important to point out how, in an interesting and hopefully unconventional way, through reflection and creation, you will arrive at a strong exhibition.

The assessment criteria are:

  • the clarity of the vision and its contemporary relevance and strength.
  • the artistic and visual power of the proposal vis-à-vis its translation into a strong scenography.
  • the composition of a team in which both design strength and reflection are present in an innovative way

For inspiration, a link to the floor plan and sections of the Belgian pavilion can be found below: