May 25, 2006
by Canadian Architect
The project entitled Shrinking Cities, sponsored by Germany’s Federal Cultural Foundation, will be presented at the 10th International Architecture Exhibition (la Biennale di Venezia), held from September 10 to November 19, 2006 in Venice. Richard Burdett, Professor at the London School of Economics and Director of this year’s Architecture Exhibition, invited the Shrinking Cities team along with 12 other renowned international research groups including ETH Zrich Studio Basel, Berlage Institute Rotterdam, AMO/OMA-Rem Koolhaas, SENSEable City Laboratory, Cambridge and the Universit IUAV di Venezia, to present its results in the international part of the Architecture Exhibition.
La Biennale di Venezia is one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the world. Since its founding in 1895, it has had a pioneering role in spotting new artistic trends and currents in the most various artistic disciplines, including film, visual art, music, dance, theatre, and architecture. The Biennale draws up to 320,000 visitors a year.
The theme of this year’s architecture exhibition at the Biennale is Meta-Cities Cities: Architecture and Society. Shrinking Cities introduces the theme of urban shrinkage as a global phenomenon, showing its effects on the respective local situations, and, along with an exhibition newspaper, provides insight into possible options for action. Shrinking Cities will stand in sharp contrast to the images of overflowing growth in southern and eastern megapolises from Mexico City to Shanghai, the images that dominate discourse on urbanism. Animated cartographies will show the instability of urban structures and the close connection between processes of growth and shrinking. In the framework of the opening program, Shrinking Cities will guide visitors on a conceptual stroll to Venice’s own shrinking sites. For Venice, too, despite its increasing success with the tourism industry, is affected by the phenomena of shrinking and has lost 60 percent of its residents in the last 50 years.
Shrinking Cities is an initiative project of the Kulturstiftung des Bundes (German Federal Cultural Foundation) in cooperation with the Project Office Philipp Oswalt, the Gallery for Contemporary Art Leipzig, the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation and the German Architecture magazine archplus. For three years, with contributions from more than 100 artists, architects, city planners, journalists, researchers, and local initiatives, it investigated an urban development that has become a worldwide phenomenon. Exhibitions in Berlin (2004), Halle and Leipzig (2005/2006) won worldwide respect. Several publications on the project were released with the publishing house Hatje Cantz and in the magazine archplus. Follow-up exhibitions are planned for several countries.