BIO27 Super Vernaculars – Design for a Regenerative Future
Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO), Ljubljana
May 26 – October 23, 2022
The 27th edition of BIO Ljubljana (BIO27), the oldest and one of the leading design biennials in the world, opening on 26 May under the curatorship of Jane Withers, brings together forward-thinking and environmentally conscious designers, architects, thinkers, and researchers from around the globe. The theme for BIO27, Super Vernaculars – Design for a Regenerative Future, explores a growing and ambitious movement that takes inspiration from vernacular architecture and design to shape a more resilient and equitable future. Super Vernaculars reveal how designers and architects are taking note of vernacular traditions and value systems largely ignored in the modern era to create imaginative responses to contemporary challenges such as water scarcity, waste, and declining biodiversity. The projects featured in BIO27 foreground localism, connection to nature, and ecological resilience. Super Vernaculars approaches include a city-wide nature-based water management system, low-energy alternatives to air conditioning, zero-waste food systems, and design that supports local communities and landscape regeneration. Curated by leading independent curator, design consultant, and writer, Jane Withers, with assistant curator Ria Hawthorn (UK), Super Vernaculars is envisaged as a collection of stories told through case studies that show how these ideas serve as a springboard for contemporary innovation. Based at the Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO) and created in cooperation with, the Centre for Creativity Slovenia (CzK), the Biennial comprises the Super Vernaculars exhibition; a presentation of the five production platform commissions; and a vibrant program of talks, workshops and engaging events.
INTRODUCTION – FORGOTTEN VERNACULARS. The first section introduces the Super Vernaculars theme and explores the ideas that underpin this contemporary movement. An assemblage of objects and ideas from different eras and cultures, it shows how ancient practices can act as catalysts for new departures as well as reminding us of ways of living that are more in tune with the natural world. It also illuminates the under-acknowledged but influential dialogue between 20th-century designers and the vernacular. In the 1960s, Bernard Rudofsky articulated the value of ‘vernacular, anonymous, spontaneous, indigenous, rural architecture, an exploration echoed today in renewed interest in TEK. For Jože Plečnik, Ray and Charles Eames, and Enzo Mari, vernacular attitudes were also a constant source of inspiration. The commission Vernacular Modernism by Adam Štech reveals how modern architecture was adapted to Slovenia and Croatia, rooting it in regional ecosystems, culture and meaning in ways that are again inspirational today. Featured projects include Autoprogettazione Sedia 1 chair by Enzo Mari, The Earth Drawings Series by Marjetica Potrč (Slovenia), When International Style Went Local: Vernacular Modernism in Slovenia and Croatia by Adam Štech (Czech Republic), Floating Roof by Oton Jugovec (Slovenia) and others. Featured artists and authors: Adam Štech, Bananatex / Qestion, Charles and Ray Eames, Danilo Fürst, Enzo Mari, Ethnographic Museum, Francesca Pellicciari, Gianluca Ciancaglini, Alessandro Latela, Jane Withers Studio, Marjan Mušič, Marjetica Potrč, Mauro Bubbico, Riccardo Dalisi (Museo Alessi) with Bernard Rudofsky, David Graeber and David Wengrow, Dušan Grabrijan, George Monbiot, Jasper Morrison, Julia Watson, Kenneth Frampton, Marcel Vellinga, Paul Oliver, Alexander Bridge, Pavel Medvešček – Klančar, Stewart Brand * The section includes 6 works curated by Marco Sammicheli, Director of the Museo del Design Italiano of Triennale Milano, demonstrating how the vernacular has influenced 20th-century Italian masters such as Enzo Mari and designers working today.
NEGOTIATING TRADITIONS. This theme explores the many ways in which designers are subverting, reimagining, and adapting vernacular and traditional knowledge and practices to address contemporary needs and challenges and to shift thinking and acting away from current energy-intensive and resource-draining modes of production. These updates and negotiations cover many different disciplines but are united by the fundamental principles of vernacular practices. This foregrounds local materials and production, creation through sharing and collaboration, and an economy of resources. Designers are taking advantage of natural material properties with imaginative new applications, updating familiar forms using low-impact materials, and employing digital media as a tool to create knowledge-sharing networks and forge new communities of practice. Here, we encounter a terracotta facade designed to cool buildings without relying on energy-intensive air conditioning; paper made from invasive Japanese knotweed to provide a productive use for unwanted biomass, and a sausage of the future adapted to climate diets and regenerative agriculture. Featured projects include The Sausage of the Future by Carolien Niebling (the Netherlands), Meat Factory by Shahar Livne (the Netherlands), The Beauty of Scarcity by Francesca Sarti (Italy), BIO27 KW commissioned open-source typography by Kellenberger-White (United Kingdom), as well as projects by Slovenian creatives, such as the Holey Roket stove by Rok Oblak and Collection of Travelling Plants by Trajna. Featured artists and authors: Ant Studio, Carolien Niebling, Carolien Niebling, Igor Jagodic, Marko Butalič, CENTRALA and Alicja Bielawska, Francesca Sarti, Ibuku, iFixit, Kellenberger-White, Museo della Merda, Our Sci / Slow Tools, Rok Oblak, Shahar Livne, Sustainable Energy for All, Terunobu Fujimori, Trajna Association.
REIMAGINING SYSTEMS AND INFRASTRUCTURES. Vernacular design principles are inspiring the reimagining of technologies, infrastructures, and production processes. Nature-based systems can provide efficient models of circular and regenerative systems that are essential for enabling ways of living with, rather than from, the earth. Combined with contemporary technology and new scientific understanding, it is possible to develop scale-able systems and infrastructures that function to the standard of highly engineered industrial equivalents, but without the environmental impact. The construction industry produces roughly a third of the world’s waste and at least 40% of CO2 emissions. New Super Vernacular approaches reuse existing materials, make use of waste streams, or employ new technologies for creating buildings using non-extractive resources such as earth. So many of the infrastructures that support our lives have become wasteful and unwieldy and this theme highlights the potential for relatively small-scale interventions to transform the built environment or water, sanitation, and food systems. Featured projects include Atelier LUMA, City of 1,000 Tanks by Ooze Architects, Solar Panels by Marjan van Aubel, Get Onboard by Priestman Goode, CoolAnt Facade by Ant Studio, as well as projects by Slovenian creatives, such as Vroče točke (Ljubljana Hot Spots) by Prostorož. Featured artists and authors: Angel Chang and Tang’an Dong Ethnic Eco-Museum, Assemble and BC Architects, Douglas McMaster, Grown.bio, Jane Withers Studio and Anupama Kundoo Architects, Low Tech Magazine, Margent Farm, Cecence, Marjan van Aubel, Material Cultures, Mischer Traxler, Ooze architects & urbanists, Practice Architecture, Priestman Goode, Prostorož, Rotor DB / Rotor DC, Ruben Warnshuis, Saferock / Snøhetta, Tecla.
CATALYSING COMMUNITY. The final theme focuses on projects that put people and communities at the heart of design thinking. Ensuring fair and equal participation in regenerative change is critical to achieving a lasting impact. Catalyzing Community explores how designers can galvanize action and celebrate commonalities by using shared stories to connect people to each other and to their ecosystems. Examples here show how design can encourage communities to revive and regenerate their own environments through careful stewardship and group enterprise, improving quality of life and generating new livelihoods. Placing communal infrastructures such as waste and water processing at the heart of a community’s conscience and care can raise awareness and connect people to the systems they rely on. Projects such as the Great Green Wall and the Girjegumpi Mobile Sami Architectural Library show how technology can connect dispersed communities to scale-up impact without compromising inclusivity and equity. Featured projects include Kamikatsu Zero Waste Village by Kamikatsu Community / Hiroshi Nakamura, Agave Project by Fernando Laposse, Indus by Bio-ID Lab at the Bartlett School of Architecture, Girjegumpi by Joar Nango and others, as well as projects by Slovenian creatives, such as Pomelaj by Pomelaj, Straw Headdress from Dandelion Parade by Nina Mršnik, and BIO50 collaboration prize winners Nanotourism by dekleva gregorič architects+AA summer school. Featured artists and authors: AA Nanotourism Visiting School, Alex Gehr, Aljoša Dekleva, Big Eye Company LTD, Hiroshi Nakamura, Bio-ID, Shneel Malik, Bloomberg media / Filmed by Naotomo Umewaka, DnA_Design and Architecture, Fernando Laposse, Great Green Wall, Isla Urbana, Joar Nango, Nina Mršnik, Lucia Massari, Olaniyi Studio, Pomelaj, Shorefast Foundation, Fogo Island Shop, Swati Janu / Social Design Collaborative.