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Venice Biennale 2012


Elias Redstone

Elias Redstone flew to Argentina to investigate how and why architects were initiating and developing their own projects following an economic crisis. Fideicomiso, one of the legal trusts that allow architects to function in this way, has come to represent a business model for architects to develop housing blocks with multiple investors, who are often future occupiers of the building. While in Buenos Aires Redstone researched the reasons behind developing fideicomiso buildings and looked at the economic and planning conditions required to deliver the projects. He discovered that when plots and building codes are clarified and standardised, building projects are more likely to be guaranteed. Some architects have waiting lists of clients who want to commission fideicomiso homes. Inspired by what he found, Redstone returned to the UK and approached architects and developers to discuss the feasibility of fideicomiso in Britain.

Interview with Elias Redstone

Why did you want to be part of Venice Takeaway?

I was attracted to the brief and the exhibition as a means to generate new ideas and thinking about architecture. Using a national pavilion to start a debate about the future of architecture in the UK is a refreshing alternative to playing safe by presenting a recognised architect or project. Such an approach is necessarily experimental and risky, but it has the potential to make a long-term impact on architecture in the UK and abroad. On a more personal level, I thought this type of international research would challenge my practice as a curator and improve my understanding of architecture. Exploring a complex and layered phenomenon seemed like a way to think outside my comfort zone.

Where did your idea come from?

A few years ago I was introduced to architects from Buenos Aires who were constructing apartment buildings with funding from the eventual occupiers, using a fideicomiso legal trust. This stuck in my mind as an interesting model for funding projects in a way that enables architects to take the lead in the development of their practice. With the deepening financial crisis in Europe, it feels like now is the right time to explore an alternative approach to homebuilding that provides a model for architects and homebuyers to work together. I am interested in whether such a model might allow architects in the UK to take the lead in developing their own projects, and whether it can in turn improve the quality of residential architecture.

How are research and exploration important to your practice?

To instigate projects, they are essential in my practice as a curator. But they are also part of an ongoing development process. I find international travel and exchange are particularly important devices for learning and also for providing the space, time and inspiration to develop projects.