When is enough, enough? – The Performance of Measurement
Singapore Pavilion at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia
May 20 – November 26, 2023
Buildings and the built environment are designed and built according to measurable, quantifiable and gradable standards, yet a community’s interaction with their environment is not measured within these standards. The need to redefine “innovation in design” to link these two realms of the architecture of the city is urgent. In building a lovable city, how do we measure the unmeasurable – agency, attachment, attraction, connection, freedom, inclusion? As we design cities to be more humane by making them more lovable, the Singapore Pavilion at the Biennale Architettura 2023 opens up dialogue about new ways of measuring and evaluating the intangibles we design to, and asks in particular: how much is enough? Co-commissioned by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and the DesignSingapore Council (Dsg), and organised by the Singapore Institute of Architects (SIA), the Singapore Pavilion responds to the 18th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia’s theme, The Laboratory of The Future, with WHEN IS ENOUGH, ENOUGH? The Performance of Measurement.
Led by curators Ar. Melvin Tan, Ar. Adrian Lai and Ar. Wong Ker How, WHEN IS ENOUGH, ENOUGH? The Performance of Measurement aims to visualise how we can start to measure these intangibles. The centrepiece of the Pavilion is the Values Measurement Machine, a spectacular series of analogue plotting machines marking data on five-metre-tall calligraphic scrolls. Visitors are invited to respond to six questions that surface the intangible elements of the city and reflect on the qualities that can transform the urban landscape beyond a human-oriented city to a worldly, lovable one. Navigating through a spectrum of artistic renders, visitors will pinpoint the critical balance of qualities to evoke their desired habitat, weighing up their preferences and registering these values at the pavilion. This act of weighing and registering values form the body of the artwork and will be plotted on the large calligraphic scrolls in the Pavilion, in a real-time display of consensus and contradiction that takes place over the six months of the Biennale Architettura 2023. Accompanying the machine are exhibits containing 41 other questions, which guide visitors to pause and learn more about the research of architectural practices involved in the Pavilion, and their work on measuring intangibles while designing for issues such as dementia and neurodiversity, rewilding, biodiversity, nutrition, and biomimicry ecosystems.
The set of exhibits and questions was created in collaboration with architects and researchers whose practices deal with the agency, attachment, attraction, connection, freedom in the city and inclusion. In examining design processes that work for these six goals, the Singapore Pavilion uncovers challenges and contradictions and brings to light methods of addressing diverse preferences and the conundrums that arise. The Values Measurement Machine will collate empirical data throughout the Biennale Architettura 2023, offering a snapshot of how intangible qualities turned into data can help increase appreciation of creating inclusive standards from the ground up. At the same time, the Pavilion experience is a call to action for visitors to reflect on how much is enough to achieve the outcomes they envision for their cities. WHEN IS ENOUGH, ENOUGH? The Performance of Measurement proposes that an equitable society rests upon the bedrock of its people continually making sense of counteracting priorities, values and definitions, especially in increasingly multicultural and multispecies cities. The Singapore Pavilion invites visitors to imagine the intangible qualities they feel are important where they live, and the roles that both architects and the general communities play in designing and realising this reality.