Looking Backward, Looking Forward

Visiting the 10th edition of the Architecture Biennale Rotterdam is an experience unlike your typical visit of an architectural exhibition. Held at the Ferro Dome, a derelict former gas storage silo located in the harbor area of Rotterdam, the event lets go of all the glitz and glamor associated with large-scale architectural shows. Instead, only a few flags in the abandoned parking lot in front of the venue, and the installation “Audement” by the Dutch-Italian Studio Ossidiana, which blends seamlessly into the post-industrial landscape, signal its location to the wandering visitor.

Upon entering the Ferro, one encounters a giant clock sculpture created by the Dutch artist Joep van Lieshout, hinting at the title of this year’s edition—“It’s About Time.” Taking the 1972 Club of Rome report The Limits to Growth as a starting point, the curatorial team assembled a range of works that address and question socio-economic events and their relationship with the natural and built environment. The projects are divided into three groups—Accelerator, Activist, and Ancestors. Despite the centrally located timeline promenade mounted on silver insulation panels and showcasing the societal discussion related to growth, development and their implications, one still manages to get (happily) lost investigating projects in their numerous forms and scales scattered throughout the maze-like exhibition setup.

And while the exhibition gathers numerous “usual suspects” in the form of larger Dutch and Belgian architectural and urban planning offices, mostly showcasing their latest large-scale and strategic projects or a selection of research-based projects, the exhibition also contains a few clever installations. Rising among the piles of scattered sand is Monadnock’s sculpture titled “The Running Rubble”—a brick-filled allusion to a broken sand clock. The “Energies of Repair” by the French Encore Heureux architectural collective showcases a colorful world of possibility and change in opposition to black and white depictions of destruction and demise. The question which remains after taking stock, though, is “what now”?



It’s About Time

10th Architecture Bienniale Rotterdam

The Netherlands