The Children’s Forest Pavilion is an ongoing inquiry. Here, the woods are not emulated, replicated, or recreated. Rather, the pavilion is a type of infrastructure. Through play, relationships form in the construction using timber redirected from the biofuel industry—by crawling into its nooks and crannies, modifying the structure with an alphabet of movable branches, or running fingers along grains in the wood. Part indoor and part outdoor, the platforms, panels, and a water collection system create a place rather than a space in which the exhibition exists. This temporary place is open to locals and tourists free of charge. Developed with and directed toward children, it sits outside the Arsenale, on a route commonly traversed as a shortcut.
The place inspires imagination and curiosity, yet also confronts with the ongoing loss of biodiversity via resource extractivism. The shift from the usual audience of architectural professionals, students, researchers, and cultural connoisseurs to children is a welcome expansion. Visitors enter into conversations about present and future environmental conditions and the use of arboreous resources: economic operations endangering old-growth, and production of biodiverse ecosystems.
While discussions about architecture, environment, resource economy, infrastructures, and ecosystems, need to happen outside current architectural institutions, future challenges (under the biennale’s theme of a future lab) are addressed to today’s children. The curators do not shy away from complexity—even if real socio-political nuances might be broader. Nonetheless, it is a place of surprise and wonder, not exclusively for children where sensory exploration is key: Touch. Sight. Shadow play. Slime Mould Spores: 3D interpretations of microscopic forms in the woods. Alphabet-like rearrangeable branches. Smell. Sound. Timber Reverberations.
Definitions of the term forest and their evolutionary spatial-temporal scales intervene in the day-to-day. Industrialization is changing the landscape. Countering such an extractivist view and teaching youth about the forest, the pavilion is a space for thinking life differently.
Laboratory of the Future, 18th Venice Architecture Biennale, Venice
curated by Lesley Lokko
Children’s Forest Pavilion
curated by Jurga Daubaraitė, Egija Inzule, Jonas Žukauskas
exhibition design by Jonas Žukauskas in collaboration with Antanas Gerlikas, Jurgis Paškevičius, Anton Shramkov