BioTallinn, the Tallinn Architecture Biennale 2017, examines the intersection between the city, technology and nature

BioTallinn, the Tallinn Architecture Biennale 2017, examines the intersection between the city, technology and nature 

The 4th Tallinn Architecture Biennale (TAB), entitled bioTallinn, explores cityscapes as self-organising systems. Claudia Pasquero, the main curator of the 4th TAB, takes a non-human-centred position towards urban space focusing on biotechnology in architecture and urban planning. She asks, how could we use the concept of collective consciousness, familiar to us from nature, to develop a lasting and adaptable model for urban planning. She has invited architects and scientists to present new work at the Biennale that interprets “collective consciousness”, to provoke visitors to continue thinking about nature and the city along the lines of urban symbiosis and collective development.

TAB, taking place for the fourth time in Tallinn, Estonia, from 13 September to 27 October 2017, is the largest architecture event in the region, tackling topical architectural issues and looking at the future of the field of architecture. The programme of the Biennale consists of three main events and satellite programmes under the theme of bioTallinn: The core includes the Curatorial Exhibition, Symposium, and the Tallinn Vision Competition. The key TAB 2017 satellite programmes include the Installation Programme competition exhibition and the TAB Schools Exhibition, bio.School.

The two-day TAB Symposium on contemporary architectural theory and practice, is a forum where people within the field can discuss and reflect upon the background to the research-based work created specifically for TAB. It is thematically connected to the Curatorial Exhibition, and this year both have been curated by Pasquero. On Thursday 14 and Friday 15 September 2017 an impressive line-up of internationally renowned architects and researchers, experimenting at the intersection of architecture, biology and computation headline the Symposium, including Marco Poletto, an architect, author, educator and co-founder and director of ecoLogicStudio; Mitchell Joachim, co-founder of Terraform ONE and an Associate Professor of Practice at NYU. Bart Lootsma, Dean and Professor for Architectural Theory the University of Innsbruck; Marco Cruz, architect, director of BiotA Lab and Professor of Innovative Environments at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, Rachel Armstrong, Professor of Experimental Architecture at the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, Newcastle University, and Areti Markopoulou, leading Greek architect, Academic Director at IAAC in Barcelona, educator and urban technologist working at the intersection between architecture and digital technologies. The TAB 2017 Symposium is moderated by Dr. Lucy Bullivant PhD Hon FRIBA, a place vision strategist, curator, author and founder/Creative Director,, and Emmanouil Zaroukas, architect, Visiting Lecturer, MArch Urban Design, Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL).

TAB has always been closely connected to the city and local community of Tallinn. Each year the locations of the Biennale events are positioned all across the centre of the city, although not far from each other – which gives visitors a unique opportunity to discover new places and learn about the city along the lines set out by the curator.

Each year for TAB 2017 the main curator selects a location in Tallinn which resonates with the theme of the Vision Competition organised with the city, and this time it is Paljassaare peninsula, located close the centre of the city and yet a place most inhabitants have never been to. The land, once grazing pasture and before that a shallow area used by pirates as a trap, has been covered by various real estate development projects over the past decade, but remains as yet unattainable. This area of Tallinn represents a prototypical case study of a landscape, that is rich in biodiversity and heavily anthropic. As such, it is currently shaped by two forms of conservative ideology: environmentalism, that strives to maintain the site as it is, in a state of illusionary wilderness; and commercial development, that envision its transformation into an ideal green city. Now is the perfect time to examine Paljassaare in both an environmental and respectful manner.

The Curatorial Exhibition for TAB 2017, entitled Anthropocene Island, features new works by a line-up of internationally renowned architects and researchers, studios and labs which are part of Claudia’s international network of research, and which focus, with a variety of different approaches, on the relationship between computation, biology and design.

This international group, including ecoLogicStudio, Rachel Armstrong, Noumena, The Urban Morphogenesis Lab, The Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC), Alisa Andrasek and Marco Cruz (BiotA Lab), Edouard Cabay (Appareil), Maj Plemenitas, Heather Barnett and Studio Unseen, was invited by Pasquero to collaborate on reconceiving the peninsula of Paljassaare.

The selected participants have tested innovative urban development methods with the help of the natural surroundings at Paljassaare, and dissecting questions of buildability, energy and ecological footprint with the use of bio-mechanical prototypes articulating material flows. Their work at different scales from the bacterial to the Baltic Sea has evaluated the metabolism of Tallinn and what changes may come in the future in the areas of energy, food production and waste management, and air pollution, when biotechnology reaches architecture and urban planning, and when waste and pollution may become the “fuel” of a new city morphology, thanks to hybrid bio-architectural prototypes.

The TAB 2017 Installation Programme offers emerging architectural talent the opportunity to design and build an exploratory installation in the city centre of Tallinn, on the area in front of the Museum of Estonian Architecture. The winning proposal by architect Gilles Retsin is characterised by outstanding aesthetics and a novel usage of plywood. The concept of prefabrication of timber elements is gaining more and more traction in the timber industry, and new products combine low-grade materials such as OSB with higher grade timbers. Timber panels are a good reference for what is possible with CNC milling and relatively cheap timber products. Gilles’ design for the TAB 2017 pavilion is based on a few simple elements – stiff, hollow timber boxes – which are easy to prefabricate, and fast to assemble as a structure, just like LEGO.

TAB Matter, the TAB 2017 webzine, is a growing collection of short features, interviews and videos from leading architects, artists, scientists and researcher in the field of architecture and biotechnology. TAB Matter contributes to the cultural discourse of TAB 2017 and provides a key means of its interpretation.

The Tallinn Architecture Biennale (TAB) AB is not a narrow architectural theory event: the aim of the festival is to inform a wider public about architecture and urban planning in today’s world and to do this with a focus toward the future. The curator of the Biennale and her team have made a great contribution with their devotion and enthusiasm in talking about the changes awaiting all of us, with Tallinn as an example, and how we understand the city from the perspective of nature and the need to deal with the cityscape taking into consideration the environmental and not just the momentary needs of people.

TAB is an international architecture festival which introduces local architecture culture, current issues concerning architecture, and looks at the future of the architectural profession. TAB offers a programme of events for both architecture professionals, students and everyone interested in architecture. The Biennale is produced by Estonian Centre of Architecture.

Additional information about bioTallinn – TAB 2017 and the Tallinn Architecture Biennale since its inception:

Triin Männik
+372 56201104

Press enquires related to the curatorial line:
mint LIST:
Maria Azzurra Rossi, Giulia Milza
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