U.S. design contingency wowed at 13th International Architecture Exhibition of
la Biennale di Venezia.
By Mason Riddle
What’s not to like about Venice? Not much if you are the Institute for Urban Design (IFUD) and your project, Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good, just won the 2012 Special Mention Award at the 13th International Architecture Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia. It was the first awarded to a U.S. Pavilion since the Architecture Biennale’s inception.
A collaborative project, Spontaneous Interventions (SI) was realized by IFUD’s Anne Guiney and her team; Jackie Lavin and her team at Freecell, the creative studio that designed the installation; design studio M-A-D, led by Erik Adigard and Patricia McShane; and Coloredge, the group that printed the banners. SI features 124 pull-down banners that feature urban actions initiated by architects, designers, planners, artists and everyday citizens that bring positive change to their neighborhoods and cities.
SI was curated by architecture writer Cathy Lang Ho, along with her team of David Van Der Leer, Ned Cramer, Paola Antonelli, Anne Guiney, Zoe Ryan and Michael Sorkin. The socially minded urban interventions were culled from a pool of more than 450 project submissions.
The U.S. Pavilion’s galleries were installed with a system of 4-by-8 and 5-by-6 grids of suspended banners. Measuring 1m-by-1.2m each, the fabric banners were printed on both sides. Each project was represented by both photo and text on the front side and striped color panels, like a bar code, on the back. The stripe width represented the percentages of impact in the following categories: information (blue), accessibility (orange), community (pink), economy (light green), sustainability (dark green) and pleasure (blue). As visitors pulled down each banner to learn the specifics of a project, a black square counterweight, etched with an urban issue, lifted along the wall and revealed a solution to the problem.
“We chose the double-sided banner material because we were printing on two sides and could not have the image bleed through the material,” explained Coloredge’s Dorothy Cherbavaz. Additionally, M-A-D developed an integrated infographic that covered the floor and provided a historical timeline for American cities and urban activism, and a video directed by Kelly Loudenberg revealed each participant’s aspirations.