Pages

Showing posts with label British Council. Show all posts
Showing posts with label British Council. Show all posts

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

A Clockwork Venice - Life at the 2014 Venice Biennale

By: Eve Russell (PLACE - Invigilator, Venice Biennale 2014)


A Clockwork Venice - Life at the Venice Biennale 2014
By: Eve Russell (PLACE - Invigilator, Venice Biennale 2014)

Venice City  - A wannabe Venetian
image credit: Eve Russell
Spending a month in Venice working at the Venice Biennale was an exciting, educative and vibrant experience! While tarmac roads and cars dominate the urban form of most cities, green sea water filled canals and boats dominate Venice. Residents live under the magical spell of silence each night, as the noise curfew is enforced, giving the city a movie-set like atmosphere, as the dimly lit narrow stone streets float in silence until the burning red suns rises in the morning to spring life onto the streets once again.
While Venice is populated with just over 60,000 residents, the tourism culture is immensely evident from its streets. Along with the 7 other fellows working at the British Pavilion, I dodged my way through thousands of tourists while crossing over the Venetian bridges on route to work each morning. People are curious about Venice, its architecture, its geography and its charm. It is through getting lost in the narrow, shoulder-width streets of Venice that you truly learn what is so charming about the city, you see how residents live. School playgrounds are elevated above street level, bordered with colourful fencing and the buildings are reusable, adaptable and often have had more than one function in their lifetime.

“Fundamentals” - The 14th Architecture Venice Biennale 2014
Before embarking on the journey from Dublin to Venice, I found it difficult to imagine what the Biennale would be like. Upon our first day of collecting our steward passes we entered into this garden of architecture - The Giardini, where we worked at the British Pavilion for a month. The main pavilion directed by Rem Koolhaas, explores the 16 ”Elements of Architecture”, looking at key moments in history that each element has featured; showing how architectural elements often provide a platform for political proclamation, royal and religious moments and everyday life. The Arsenale hosts the other portion of countries participating in the Architecture Biennale. The “Monditalia” exhibition explores architecture across Italy, through architectural designs and the visual arts such as film and dance, using the elements such as the ceiling, wall, door and stair to display them.




“A Clockwork Jerusalem” - The British Pavilion 
The British Pavilion responded to the theme set by Rem Koolhaas “Absorbing Modernity”. Entitled “A Clockwork Jerusalem” the exhibition made reference to the movie “A Clockwork Orange”  and William Blake’ s poem, “Jerusalem”. The Modern Movement within Britain between 1914 and 2014 is explored, referencing the cause of Modernism within Britain and the journey taken until 2014. The post-war state of Britain left a lot of destruction, poverty and homelessness. This needed to be addressed and in order to move forward, people looked to new ways of designing architecture, housing and urban form. 

The introduction of Modern social housing such as Robin Hood Gardens, Hulme Housing Development and Thamesmead (which featured in the movie A Clockwork Orange) all proposed an alternative way of living. Cars and the mechanisation of buildings became a key feature in many of these new housing developments, incorporating central communal green spaces to be used by the residents, improving their quality of life and utilising the ruins of the destroyed terraced housing. Satellite towns such as Milton Keynes were developed and used to move people from the city centres, hoping to reduce poverty and provide new starts, while being connected by the “concrete” motorways.

Finding Jerusalem - what happens after Modernism?
After many of the new housing developments failed to function for their original use, because of poor building standards, health and safety issues, industrialisation and post-industrialisation, the people that inhabited them were left once again without a home, with depleting standards of living and little hope for the future in a recession. However, as Modernism in Britain grew from the ruins of a broken Britain, the ruins of Modernism can be used to construct a new future for Britain, a new hope, a New Jerusalem.


For more information on PLACE's involvement with this year's Venice Biennale, search the Absorbing Modernity programme at the Belfast Festival at Queens





Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Ulster Museum: 1914-2014: Evolution amidst Revolution

Ulster Museum: 1914-2014: Evolution amidst Revolution is an exhibition, curated by Rosaleen Hickey, celebrating the architectural history of the Ulster Museum over the last 100 years.




Featuring rarely seen archival drawings, photographs and footage of the museum, the exhibition sheds new light on one of Belfast’s most iconic buildings. The Ulster Museum: 1914-2014: Evolution amidst Revolution is part of Absorbing Modernity 1914-2014 a series of events celebrating modernist architecture in Northern Ireland as part of the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queens inspired by this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale and the British Pavilion’s A Clockwork Jerusalem.

The exhibition opens on Friday 17 October, 6pm - 8pm in the Belfast Room at the Ulster Museum. All welcome and refreshments served. Tours take place 23 & 30 October at 1pm from the atrium led by architectural historian and exhibition curator, Rosaleen Hickey. Exhibition continues until Saturday 1 November (Closed Mondays).

In partnership with the Ulster Museum & supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the British Council.

For more information on Absorbing Modernity events please visit the Belfast Festival at Queens website.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Fundamentally Biennale

(2014 International Architecture Biennale, Venice)
By: Eve Russell (PLACE - Invigilator, Venice Biennale 2014)

The Architecture Biennale takes place every two years in Venice, with a range of countries that have permanent pavilions in the Biennale Park designing an exhibition that responds to a common theme. The 2014 Biennale is curated and directed by Rem Koolhaas, an award-winning Dutch architect. The title he has set for this year is “Fundamentals” and the theme is “Absorbing Modernity: 1914-2014”. 

Each country that has a pavilion in the Biennale Park has designed an exhibition that responds to the 2014 theme, which is show-cased during the Biennale festival that runs from June-November 2014.
The British Pavilion is being curated by FAT Architecture and Crimson Architectural Historians, who have entitled the British Pavilion Exhibition “A Clockwork Jerusalem”. The exhibition explores modernist architecture within the United Kingdom, documenting the UK’s response to the modernist movement.

This year, the British Council funded a fellowship programme for 50 fellows from various universities and organisations throughout the UK to invigilate the British Pavilion. They have also added a new dimension to the invigilating programme, with a 12-day research programme included as part of the invigilating role. Each fellow has the opportunity to design their own short research project to explore while in Venice. I am PLACE’s representative and will be invigilating at the British Pavilion exhibition for a month this summer.

A training programme took place in April this year, with 45 of the fellows meeting at the Barbican in London to embark on a series of tours, talks and discussions about the Biennale. This was a great opportunity to meet the other invigilators and learn about something we are all passionate about. The training days involved staying at Balfron Tower, a modernist residential tower block designed by Ernő Goldfinger in the 1960s, artists and residents still live in the tower.  We explored many parts of London, including other residential modernist buildings such as Robin Hood Gardens, and public spaces, Crisp Street Market and Festival of Britain Park. Stratford, the Olympic Park was also part of our exploration, seeing how Britain designs in 2014.


The Venice Biennale this year is about “architecture, not architects” according to Rem Koolhaas and will be an investigation into the history of architecture, of what has been built. The biennale not only considers how countries have absorbed modernity, but people and societies, also. Visiting the biennale is an opportunity to “absorb” the architecture and culture of many countries as well as absorbing Venice, a city literally flooded in architectural, artistic and social heritage.

For more information on PLACE's involvement with this year's Venice Biennale, search the Absorbing Modernity programme at the Belfast Festival at Queens


Friday, 21 September 2012

City Shapers: Dr. Callie Persic

CITY SHAPERS: What's Your Role?

Whether your role is architect, community representative, cyclist or citizen, we all have a part to play in shaping the city around us, from big scale planning to small scale interventions. In this series, we meet the people making a difference in Belfast and beyond.

Dr. Callie Persic is originally from the United States. After coming to Belfast to complete her PhD in Anthropology at Queen’s University, she now resides here and works for the West Belfast Partnership Board (WBPB). She spoke to Ailish Killilea who volunteers at PLACE and works as an urban designer with Forum for Alternative Belfast.

***

How long have you worked with WBPB and what is your role?
I have worked at the WBPB for the last seven and a half years and am the Strategic Regeneration Manager. The Partnership is a cross-sector partnership that works across a number of themes. Specifically my remit covers Housing, Environment & Planning and Economic Development & Neighbourhood Renewal. There are five Area Partnerships in Belfast and I have strong relationships across the city with my colleagues.

How do you find working with the Partnership Board and what type of projects do you deal with?
I like working in the Partnership, I actually like working with different people and in different sectors - I get quite a buzz out of that. Because my remits are so wide, I could work on a number of things. Regeneration is many things linked together. In relation to economic development, I work with a very strong committee, what we are looking at is how to support local creative industries, small businesses and SMEs (small & medium enterprises).

This can be localised or can reach city wide. We work on community development model that can help local traders and creative industries get a head start for example we have supported the West Belfast Traders Forum and the tourism initiative Fáilte Feirste Thiar, which are now operating independently.


"Regeneration is many things linked together"

In terms of spatial regeneration, housing and environmental planning, I think we could do so much more - but resources can limit the expanse of our projects. The progress of this work comes in peaks and valleys depending on [whether] there are resources. It can be very frustrating as it can take years to see something happen.

That said, the work is very interesting and we have many projects on the go in the West. Currently the Glen 10 Development Framework is out to community consultation and the Andersontown Barracks is another huge and very interesting project, something we have worked on with PLACE. We organised the community consultation for that — it is a former military site and the redevelopment of is hugely important for Belfast as it is part of conflict transformation and the use of space.

In terms of local work I sit on each of the Neighbourhood Partnerships, there are 5 of them in West Belfast. It is important to be able to support local renewal as well as strategic and wider reaching regeneration.

Callie Persic outside the West Belfast Partnership Board. Picture by Ailish Killilea.

You recently set up the Pop up shop in West Belfast, which was very successful. How did you find setting it up and running it?
The Pop Up Shop (Síopa Sealadach) was result of a number of things coming together—support for the creative industries, addressing empty shops and linking into the increased footfall during the Féile and seizing an opportunity. Our neighbours, SCA (Springfield Charitable Association), very kindly gave us use of the space prior to them moving into their new premises. We were very lucky as I’m aware setting up a pop up is not always that easy.

The shop was opened by the DCAL Minister Carál Ni Chuilín on the 30th of July and it ran until the 12th of August. I am delighted by the success of the shop—there was a great sense of excitement and a ‘can do’ attitude. Something like this had not been done on the Falls Road before and it generated a lot of interest and publicity.

"...we want to make sure there are good quality services to help people who really need it."

It was a great project to be involved in and I am delighted to report that the creatives involved ‘re-popped’ after the space on the Falls Road closed - they are temporarily located on 155 Northumberland Street across from the International Wall. What is great about the pop up shop is that it gives creatives the opportunity to test out their business to the market and make a go of it until they can afford to take on their own unit.

Are there any new projects in the pipeline that you are particularly interested in?
We have a lot going on across all the themes in the Partnership and I am interested in how we can carry out regeneration of Belfast through more effective collaboration. Our remit is to work with the worst 10% - we want to make sure there are good quality services to help people who really need it.

In terms of economic development we have been working towards a better relationship with InvestNI, recently embarking on a piece of work together drawing up an investment proposition for West Belfast, which will be extremely useful as we seek investment and promote tourism.

On a wider city scale, we have been part of the FAB Summer School 2012, looking at how West and East Belfast connect to the city centre. Analysis showed how poorly the West connects to the city, especially in the ‘Shatterzone’ area on Divis Street. I was glad to see this year comparative work to other cities and an evidence-based approach, which helped inform my thinking as to the future needs of the city and our communities. That is a project where leadership is necessary in how you take that forward. It will need multiple partners lining up their plans and resources.

How would you unwind after a long day?
I volunteer in my spare time - I am the Chair of Skegoneill Glandore Common Purpose, an interface organisation in North Belfast. I really enjoy it because the projects are so interesting but is very similar to my professional career and so I need to find other ways to take a break and unwind.

I do Bikram Yoga in the Conway Mill. It is physically intense but I find it very relaxing and focuses me. I like walking around the city, taking pictures and exploring the city. Best of all though is when I am just chilled out with friends—going for walks or meeting up and having tea and cakes!

Interview at WBPB HQ. Picture by Ailish Killilea

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be so many things—in fact I still do! I initially thought I would be a medical doctor but maybe because I moved so much I became interested in other cultures and in the end I settled on anthropology. My undergraduate degree is in philosophy but I went on to study anthropology and this is what brought me to Belfast. My PhD thesis looked at women, power, feminism and identity.


"I really believe in Belfast."

What book are you reading at the moment?
I usually have about 3 or 4 books on the go and I just finished the most recent Deborah Harkness book—which is a real curl-up-on-the-sofa book. But I also have been reading 'Welcome to the Urban Revolution'—It’s useful to read case studies about urban development and look at practices elsewhere—I’m really interested in cities, looking at cities and how they work. I think even you can read a little at the end of each day, it is so beneficial. Also I just re-read 'The Importance of Being Earnest' and it is such a brilliant play and makes me laugh out loud. I always have more books I want to read than time to enjoy them.

I also find I’m reading more and more on my phone, getting digestible articles, that if I have a moment, I can drop in and out of.

If you could invite 5 famous people to dinner, dead or alive, who would they be?
I was trying to get it down to five! Oscar Wilde is a must, Hilary Clinton, Amelia Peabody, David Attenborough, Nan Goldin (her work is so edgy and different) and Robert Plant - because of my love for Led Zeppelin.

If you were in charge, what changes would you make to Belfast as a city?
I really believe in Belfast. I believe in the greatness of Belfast. I would like to see Belfast thrive and be its own thing and not become just another city that you could find anywhere. My vision for Belfast is to have a better connected city in every way - that people feel connected to each other and the city and that there is a better sense of collective ownership. I think there are many aspects to this because it’s about transport, employment, public spaces, mental maps and challenging our own behavior and patterns. I would also like to see a change in the city in terms of a better balance of gender equality with more women involved at leadership levels, making decisions and having some influence in how the city takes shape.

***

If you or someone you know is a City Shaper, in Belfast or across Northern Ireland, we'd love to talk to you. Contact [email protected]

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Call for Participation for the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale

Venice Takeaway: Ideas to Change British Architecture

The British Pavillion in Venice. Image courtesy British Council.
The British Pavilion at the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale will be the culmination of an ambitious global research project designed to make an original and far-reaching contribution to the debate about architecture in the UK.

The Pavilion will provide an injection of new ideas based on the collective research of architects, students, writers, critics and academics. The research will focus on what - and who - makes great architecture; considering issues such as construction, housing, planning, culture, education, procurement, architectural competitions and the role of the client.

On Thursday 19th January 2012 at 5.30pm an open call for participation and proposals will be launched at PLACE, 40 Fountain Street, Belfast - followed by a discussion about the brief aimed at involving a wide-range of contributors.

All those who wish to find out more are welcome to attend the event. Booking is essential: click here to register.

In March the best proposals will be selected and around ten individuals or teams will travel to unearth case studies in locations around the world.

Each ‘Explorer’ will conduct interviews and uncover how, and why something works. Explorers will be tasked with bringing back material including film, photography, writing and drawing. The exhibition will tell their stories and make a series of proposals for changing British architecture.

Venice Takeaway will build on the UK’s history of looking to the rest of the world for inspiration and ideas. Trade voyages shaped the modern world; not only filling museums, botanical gardens and markets but also changing the way we think and introducing ideas that have become part of our culture. Today the flow of ideas is made possible by the travels of architects and by overseas students who come to the UK to study, and often stay to establish their own design studios or to work for British practices.

By discovering the best ideas from around the world it is hoped that the British Pavilion will make an original contribution to the debate about architecture in the UK and influence the future direction of policy and practice at a moment of flux.

Venice Takeaway is curated by Vicky Richardson, Director of Architecture, Design, Fashion at the British Council and Vanessa Norwood, Head of Exhibitions at the Architectural Association.

Vicky Richardson says: ‘We have many good designers in the UK, but the systems and structures surrounding architecture need change. Everyone who has travelled will recognise the feeling of envy when you see a good idea. The British Pavilion aims to gather the best of these and bring them back to the UK.’

Launches:
London
Tuesday 10 January, 6-7.30pm
Architectural Association, The New Soft Room, 36 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3ES

Edinburgh
Thursday 12 January
Playfair Library Hall, Old College, University of Edinburgh, South Bridge, Edinburgh EH8 9YL

Cardiff
Wednesday 18 January, 6-7.30pm
Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Castle Grounds, Cathays Park, Cardiff CF10 3ER

Belfast
Thursday 19 January, 5.30-7pm
PLACE, 40 Fountain Street, Belfast BT1 5EE
Register for this event here

***

Advisory Panel
The British Council works with an advisory panel of leading architecture professionals across the UK which assists with the selection for the Venice Biennale every two years. For further information please visit www.britishcouncil.org/venicebiennale

Chair: Vicky Richardson, Director of Architecture, Design, Fashion at the British Council
David Anderson, Director General of the National Museum Wales
Ian Gilzean, Chief Architect, Scottish Executive
Penny Lewis, Course leader, Masters in Architecture, Robert Gordon University School of Architecture
Ciaran Mackel, Architect, Ard Mackel Architects
Fred Scott, Author, On Altering Architecture
Brett Steele, Director of the Architectural Association School of Architecture and AA Publications
Finn Williams, Founder of Common Office and Deputy Leader of Placemaking Team at Croydon Council

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

PLACE Director on advisory panel for British Pavillion at Venice 2010

The British Council has appointed muf architecture/art Llp as Artistic Directors of the British Pavilion for the 12th Venice Architecture Biennale.

muf architecture/art Llp is a collaborative practice with a UK and international track record of process driven work with physical and propositional outcomes. The British Council invited proposals that focused on collaboration, spatial experience, a relationship to the British Pavilion architecture and enabled adaptation or transformation. muf’s approach, Two Way Traffic, will make connections and enable knowledge exchange between Venice and Britain.

The 12th Venice Biennale of Architecture will be open to the public from 29th August to 21st November 2010. This year’s Biennale is under the directorship of Kasuyo Sejima, a leading exponent of contemporary architecture. Describing the rationale for her choice of theme, Sejima commented: `The idea is to help people relate to architecture, help architecture relate to people and help people relate to themselves.’

The UK’s international body for cultural relations, the British Council, has managed the British Pavilion since 1938. Designed by an Italian architect in 1887 as a tearoom to serve the Giardini di Castello, the building was extensively refurbished by the British Council in 1995 to mark La Biennale di Venezia’s centenary year.

This year’s Advisory Panel for the British Pavilion were Christopher Egret, Director, Studio Egret West; Kathryn Findlay, Director Ushida Findlay Architects; Pedro Gadanho, Professor at Faculty of Architecture, the University of Porto; Michael Hegarty, Director, PLACE; Sarah Ichioka, Director, Architecture Foundation (and Chair of panel); Kieran Long, and Vicky Richardson, Editor, Blueprint and forthcoming Director of Architecture, Design, Fashion, British Council.

- Venice Biennale 2010
- muf