Portuguese architects Diogo Seixas Lopes and André Tavares are the chief curators of the upcoming Lisbon Architecture Triennale (6 OCT – 11 DEC 2016). DAMNº sat down with André Tavares to talk about the central theme of this 4th edition: The Form of Form. So how do architects transform the world through architecture? And what is the relevance of the architect within the rapidly changing, complex society of today?
Diogo Seixas Lopes (left) and André Tavares (right) ©Valter Vinagre
The general aim here is to provoke debate, since, as André Tavares says, “There is a lack of discussion about the core of architecture. Architecture still has to shape the form of our world, and in the end, what lasts is the form.” Even though the general public couldn’t care less about architectural theory? “People care a lot about architecture – look at how building sites attract curious passers-by; they’re fascinated by the rotating cranes”, says the architect, who confesses that he himself is very much attracted to these ever changing building sites, trying to imagine the lives of the people who work there. In short: architecture is at the root of being human. “People usually prove to be very interested in knowing how their world is going to be shaped. This is the social aspect of architecture. If you build in a different manner, you get a different society. When people show that they are keen on architecture, it is precisely because of this. And what it looks like. The form is normally what fuels public discussion.” Tavares enjoys sharing his enchantment with the way form leads to the transformation of society. “Architecture is not only about aesthetics. For instance, look at the huge impact that a strong architectural form like Centre Pompidou in Paris had on its environment, giving the neighbourhood a new, vibrant identity. The same is true of Casa da Musica in Porto, designed by Rem Koolhaas.”
Having their finger on the pulse of human society, architects are supposed to provide intelligent, constructive, and visionary answers. Quite a responsibility, indeed, in an evermore complex and fast-paced contemporary world facing delicate challenges – from the ageing population to the arrival of immigrants with different cultural backgrounds to the effects of climate change. “These are big challenges society needs to address, in addition to the architecture.” How are architects dealing with it, what are their reflections? How do their designs have an impact? How do they evaluate what they build? The Triennale attempts to shed light on all of this, and to provoke a broader debate.
BUILDING SITE exhibition | Image: Casa da Música Model, porto, Image Courtesy of OMA, Photographed by Hans Werlemann
More enticing still, the Triennale’s programme is centred on three main exhibitions – one of these deals with authorship and form (The Form of Form), another focuses on processes and the making of forms (Building Site), and the third on cities and the complex analytical practice behind their urban forms (The World in Our Eyes). A couple of satellite exhibitions and 14 associated projects by participants from countries such as Germany, UK, France, USA, and Australia, will take place throughout Lisbon and its outskirts, highlighting the diversity of the Portuguese capital’s urban landscape. “Form is everywhere”, as the architect proclaims. The Triennale will also invite the public to discover places where there is nothing to see, places that are an architectural mess, forgotten corners in suburbia that are considered uninteresting. “The city is the exhibition”, according to Tavares. A promising edition, certainly!
Presídio da Trafaria - Repérage session to possible venues for satellites, @Valter Vinagre
building site: National Coach Museum © Nuno Cera