Madeleine Kessler & Manijeh Verghese, Unscene Architecture
23 March 2021
Curated by Manijeh Verghese and Madeleine Kessler, The Garden of Privatised Delights takes inspiration from Netherlandish artist Hieronymus Bosch’s triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights. The exhibition reimagines how to make public space more inclusive, countering the rapid rise of privately-owned public space with an inspiring, alternative vision that urges both sectors to work together to create better-designed spaces for all.
In 2020 the Biennale Architettura – one of the most prestigious architecture exhibitions in the world – was postponed due to the impact of Covid-19 on participating national pavilions. Topics explored within The Garden of Privatised Delights take on an almost prophetic urgency as a result of the global pandemic, including the demise of the high street; how facial recognition technology is used; and the decline in dedicated social places for teenagers. The subject of ‘public spaces’ – who owns them, who uses them and how – has also become more pertinent.
“The global pandemic has made the need to address issues of inequality even more critical” says Madeleine Kessler. “The Garden of Privatised Delights aims to start a conversation on how society can do things better, including widening consultation on and inclusivity in design to ensure public spaces are truly accessible for all”.
Manijeh Verghese continues, “The high street, the pub, even the public toilet – challenges around accessing these spaces are especially pertinent, and isolation in communities is being felt even more acutely. How public space has traditionally been designed and used needs urgent rethinking, and The Garden of Privatised Delights intends to inspire urgent action to support those challenges.”
The British Pavilion will be transformed into a series of six immersive spaces; Verghese and Kessler are keen to offer visitors an interactive experience of architecture, rather than traditional exhibitions that represent architecture through models and drawings.
In an effort to encourage greater inclusivity and consultation around architecture, the exhibition will pose questions and offer ways forward to challenges such as: how to make better use of green spaces in urban environments; can we rethink how public land is allocated and used; and how can the local pub be repurposed to serve the wider community?
The curators have invited five additional teams of designers to collaborate with them on the British Council commission: The Decorators; Built Works; Studio Polpo; Public Works; and vPPR. Each room in the pavilion will critique how specific public spaces are currently designed and used.
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