GHETTO, our exhibition in collaboration with UNHCR, for the European Cultural Centre’s fifth edition of the Venice Biennial Architecture, is located in Palazzo Mora in Cannaregio, home of the original Jewish Ghetto. The theme of the 2021 Venice Architecture Biennale, “How will we live together?,” encourages individuals to consider the role of the architect in creating spaces for inclusion, questioning the architect’s role as a “cordial convener and a custodian of the spatial contract” and runs from May 22nd to November 21th, 2021.
GHETTO, is an architectural project that proposes the resettlement of 1,000 refugees into Venice financed by the sale of timeshare condominiums for tourists from America. The inspiration for the project came from the site of the ECC exhibition in Palazzo Mora located in Cannaregio, home of the Jewish ghetto, and our desire to illustrate our studio’s credo that architecture has the potential to be a poetic expression of social justice.
The GHETTO exhibition allows for an experience of the project from two angles, the conceptual framework and the architectural detail, all while offering a concise preview to the graphic novel developed in tandem with the exhibition. The novel’s narratives are told through the lens of two characters, illuminating insights toward embracing diversity, the first step toward creating a Citizen City, supported by an architectural manifesto at the novel’s centre. Both the exhibition and the novel offer diverse perspectives that provide the audience with a deeper understanding of the project’s ultimate goal: illustrating the need and ability to create inclusive cities.
Entering the exhibition, GHETTO: Sanctuary for Sale, a viewer sets foot within an immersive version of the graphic novel. The wall adjacent to the main entrance presents a captivating, full-wall illustration from one of the narratives within the book. Two copies of the book fastened to shelves over the illustration are available for readers to browse. The two long walls on each side of the room parallel each other physically and conceptually, offering two different approaches toward understanding the project. The introductory “GHETTO” wall presents the project’s conceptual framework, intentions, and key “characters”, which are graphically supported by a birds-eye rendering that depicts the project at a comprehensive level. The opposite wall elaborates on the project’s specific architectural details supported by an eye-level rendering within GHETTO, unit plans, and the project’s proforma, which breaks down the timeshare-to-refugee housing transfer of wealth. The wall furthest from the main entrance illustrates how the architectural vision is portrayed in each of the four locations and its location relative to the rest of the city of Venice.
- European Cultural Centre, ECC Architecture Award, Special Mention, 2021