What can be done about the inequalities of an urban development that, in the course of globalization, commercializes every centimeter of the city and only makes important infrastructure available to the part of the population that lives in the city center? Conversely, what are the decisive spatial requirements for a “city for all” and how could they be realized? Paola Viganò is one of the key voices in the European debate on pressing issues of today’s urban development – questions that she addresses in her theoretical writings , but also gives answers as a practical planner.
The Milan-born urban planner and architect now imparts her knowledge as a theoretician and lecturer at the Universities of Lausanne and Venice. Her commitment applies to an open and fairer city model. She pleads for a detachment from the central fixation of the models of the last decades and for an ecological re-qualification of urban territories. The spatial upgrading and linking of connected green zones and watercourses are central starting points of her work on the city. They stand for a new overall urban spatial system that sees the decisive starting point for climate-friendly change in the “empty spaces” of the periphery and the outskirts.
As an urban planner, Paola Viganò took part in the major international urban development and restructuring competitions (Grand Paris, Bruxelles 2040, Antwerp, Moscow and Geneva) and decisively shaped them with her ideas – until 2014 together with Bernardo Secchi. As an architect, however, she has also designed a number of outstanding public buildings, squares and conversions of cultural institutions, such as the Theaterplein in Antwerp, realized together with Bernardo Secchi.
As a theoretician, she has been involved with her essays and writings in the discussion of central terms in the European urban debate over the past 25 years – for example in the critical examination of the ‘Città diffusa’. She had a decisive influence on the concept of a ‘porous city’, which has been important over the past ten years, and only recently with the publication on “The Horizontal Metropolis” she gave another impetus for the qualification of public space in a transformed urban landscape. Many of her initiatives arose from exchanges with other urban researchers, architects and scientists, primarily from Italy, France, Belgium and Austria. From a local perspective, her work could be interpreted as an ecological continuation of the discussion about the intermediate city, which has become extremely topical today with respect to the housing shortage and the question of urban expansion.
Her research on the European city, which she carried out together with students from EPFL Lausanne, was on display, most recently at the Architecture Biennale 2021. The curator Hashim Sarkis has dedicated one of the large exhibition rooms of the Italian pavilion in the Giardini to her work.
Itohan Osayimwese is an architectural and urban historian. She is Associate Professor of History of Art & Architecture at Brown University, Providence / USA. She engages with theories of modernity, postcoloniality, and globalization to analyze German colonial architecture, urban design, and visual culture; modern architecture in Germany; African and African diaspora material cultural histories; and the architecture of development in Africa. Another research interest is the architectural and urban lives of religious cults.
Her book, Colonialism and Modern Architecture in Germany, considers the effects of colonialism on the development of modern architecture in Germany from the 1850s until the 1930s. Her current book project, From Barbados to Boston, explores the transformative effects of migration on Anglo-Caribbean built environments and societies after Emancipation. Another book project introduces English-speaking scholars to the first German-language survey of African architecture published in 1894, and revises our understanding of the origins of the study of African art.
Xu Tiantian/DnA_Design and Architecture
Xu Tiantian opened her own architectural office in Beijing in 2003. Since 2014 she has been developing a new strategy of small-scale interventions with the regional administration of Songyang and the local economy, from which the entire spatial area can benefit.
The interventions of DnA strive for an interaction between rural and urban characteristics. The projects are spread across the region like a network of acupuncture. They activate the local economy, strengthen the cultural identity and take care of the environment and community.
Keller Easterling, American Architect, Author and Professor at Yale University, is researching in the way the spatial production of our living environment is logistically balanced and overlaid with technological developments. She pursues this on a very high theoretical and linguistic level without losing sight of the specific social dimension and political potential of urban space.
With “Enduring Innocence: Global Architecture and its Political Masquerades”she laid the theoretical foundation for a fresh yet critical view of the political gaps in the system of increasingly globalised architecture production. In “Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space” she examined the infrastructure network as a “community medium” and established ground-breaking points for the contemporary discussion on architecture and urban research. Easterling is considered to be one of the most important intellectual voices in the international discussion on architecture.
The Schelling Architecture Foundation recognizes the British-Canadian author for the new perspective with which he explores the causes of basic parameters leading to the need for and the influences on new accommodation solutions for immigrants in Western societies. In doing so he has also developed basic principles for urban development that will ultimately determine the success or failure of our urban living conditions in the 21st century. In 2011 he recorded his observations and intensive research of the subject of migration in twenty metropolitan areas across all continents in the book „Arrival City“ and in 2012 in „The Myth of the Muslim Tide“.