Much smaller in scale than its older art sibling, it is mainly taking place at La Sucrière – a quay-side, former industrial building near the docks – plus a few off-site venues. The first edition is themed around “processes and practices” and is a nod to how the city is hugely renovating its Confluence district, with residential projects by the likes of Herzog & de Meuron.

The biennale's president, Isabelle Leclercq, and its vice-president, Franck Hulliard, took an unusual approach, appointing a “scientific and artistic committee” to select 30 projects from 60 submissions. The multi-disciplinary committee was composed of three architects – Françoise Fromonot, Pascal Rollet and Julien Choppin – plus the art historian Valérie Disdier, the composer Nicolas Frize and the geographer Michel Lussault. The six decided to focus on experimental projects by young studios and collectives that would be assembled on site. Eschewing the standard approach of exhibiting maquettes and drawings, this has resulted in a didactic exhibition about ecology that suffers from political posturing.

Waste Your Time, Not Your Materials, Structural Xploration Lab at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)
The biennale opens with an open-air shelter made from recuperated skis. Titled 'Waste Your Time, Not Materials', it is a statement about recycling by Structural Xploration Lab at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. An installation featuring bales of hay, stuffing and composite wood by Fabriques Architectures Paysages/Thierry Boutonnier is an urban eco-system relating to agriculture. Nearby, the collective Amaco-Atelier Matières à Construire evaluates the various materials, such as sand and earth, needed to make bricks. The sustainable development of Rotterdam is explored in a research project by Fabric, while the simulation game Re-Générations by Studio Akkerhuis imagines future ecological utopias. Outside La Sucrière stands a white tower by Michel Philippon/Agence Laisné-Roussel, with an elongated flower bed descending from the top of the staircase onto the soil. Suggestive of the need for nature in the urban space, it also pertains to environmental concerns.

Projet habiter extérieur Michel Philippon/ Agence Laisné-Roussel
Qui es-tu brique? Amàco - Zoé Tric / Gian Franco Noriega
Aire d'attente Fabriques Architectures Paysages/Thierry Boutonnier
Re-Générations Studio Akkerhuis Photo by N. Melemis