É na Terra não é na Lua
Earth is the ground we tread and excavate to know and create the memory, find the ruin, extract, and subtract. Earth is the place where we belong; where we come from. Earth is a circumscribed territory. Earth is the third planet from the sun and is also the motto of the 2022 edition of the Lisbon Architecture Triennale.
The Triennale is a forum that takes place every three years to debate a theme or group of issues, approaching architecture beyond its formal and constructive character (relating to construction).
The first edition took place in 2007, curated by José Mateus, current president and engine of the cultural association, debating Urban Voids. The non-places and empty lands as vocabularies of a text called city. Then there was Let’s Talk About Houses, led by Delfim Sardo in 2010, about a national survey of contemporary housing and ways of inhabiting. The event broadened its horizons in 2013, with Beatrice Galilee for Close, Closer. The curator sought a contemporary approach and critical thinking appealing to making and action. It was with this curator that the Triennale achieved international significance. In 2016, the curatorship was bicephalous. André Tavares and Diogo Seixas Lopes got the city talking about The Form of Form. A debate about how the world is transformed through architecture, bringing to Lisbon various discourses about senses and meanings. Éric Lapierre was the 2019 curator to talk about the Poetics of Reason. Architecture is perhaps one of the disciplines that is most present between the realms of science and the foundations of physics in buildings; and the poetics of life in spaces, in dialogue with the inhabitants. The architect and curator wanted to demystify the discipline’s universal language or jargon and gestures – perhaps he did not quite achieve this.
In the sixth edition, the triennial focuses on home, that third planet from the sun, with four core exhibitions that point directions for the future(s). Cristina Veríssimo and Diogo Burnay are the conductors of this new edition, speaking on themes such as climate change, sustainability and ecology in the ways and means of doing and thinking about projects. Four exhibitions on the event and a complementary programme with independent projects. These are the result of an open call for self-financed proposals and works, which are welcome, but still remain very much within the confines of urban Lisbon, hardly suburban and even less metropolitan. Additionally, three days of conferences and four books. Like other publications of the Triennale, they are not catalogues, but a systematisation of knowledge(s).
Landing on the moon at Culturgest. Visionaries are visions of the future and other perspectives of thinking and projecting. They are retro-revisited strategies. Anastasia Smirnova, curator of this exhibition, with Bureau’s irrepressible exhibition layout, installs an opaque drapery dancing in the venue, hiding and revealing, concealing, and unveiling. A brainstorming of different thoughts that we consider prototypes and models of truth, oriented towards a future-more-than-perfect, or towards the simple safeguarding of the future-simple. Divided into three sections or chapters: Monovisões, Pensamento Catedral e Futurologia no Íntimo, the exhibition is a narrative between the scale of the individual and the collective. It reclaims figures from the past for future visions and underlines other contemporary flows.
Multiplicity at Galeria Millennium bcp (National Museum of Contemporary Art – Museu do Chiado) is based on the idea that much of the planet is transformed (perhaps built, we have not yet reached the transformation moment in this Anthropocene) without an architectural project; without a specialized technician. Informal or architectless architectures are the immediate response to the unbridled growth of cities, to overpopulation, further fuelling inequalities, tensions, and conflicts. They do not generate these conflicts; they are the possible answer to the discipline’s inertia. How can Architecture reinvent itself in construction? Curated by Tau Tavengwa and Vyjayanthi Rao, Multiplicity attempts to enumerate and document solutions and answers. In the venue, the curators propose an archive of readable knowledge that can be seen and transported to be heard – prismatic totems marvel the curious onlookers. Of the four exhibitions, this is perhaps the one designed to be itinerant and informative. The public and community library in some Lisbon municipality square was not implemented. We are left with the mock-up in the exhibition of the BookWorm Pavilion project by the Nudes studio.
Retroactive at MAAT – Central Tejo, curated by Loreta Castro Reguera and José Pablo Ambrosi, talks about the communities that inhabit the multiple cities within a metropolis, in the marginalized spots, in the disenfranchised territories and in the 99% of the global population that most needs an architect. Not from the signature of a project author, but from the knowledge of a technician and coordinator. Proposals and interventions from architects and others are presented; organisations of people formed by the common need to solve or design better futures.
Cycles, at Garagem Sul, CCB’s architectural wing, warns about the waste and accumulation of materials in a building that is constructed, rehabilitated, and destroyed, to make way for a new one, in the same place and with new materials. “The architects who never throw anything away” could be the name of a repository of materials – in a quick search, we realised that it’s a business niche yet to be explored in Portugal, which has to go beyond tiles. On the contrary, the sentence is the motto and subtitle that curators Pamela Prado and Pedro Ignacio Alonso use to explain to visitors that every building has a life cycle, being made up of materials with extraction and transformation cycles that have an impact on the planet. After all, the construction industry is still one of the most polluting in the world. The sourcing, transportation and transformation of the materials that make up the final design have a major impact on this toll. We also highlight several contributions of artists on this subject. Still to be answered are the benefits of saving and the futurology of the materials to be used in the forthcoming eras.
Cristina Veríssimo and Diogo Burnay push the boundaries of architecture, entering the broader civil society. The architects have come to Lisbon to question how architecture and the way we build and inhabit houses, cities and the territory has a strong impact on the process of preserving ecosystems and biodiversity. The field of ideas may be on the moon, but the field of action is urgently on Earth. While we await the impact of this Triennale, we can visit we can visit Visionaries until December 4; Multiplicity until January 8, 2023; Retroactivate until December 5 and Cycles until February 12, 2023.
The Lisbon Architecture Triennale runs until 5 December.
 É na Terra não é na Lua – title of a documentary by Gonçalo Tocha about the island of Corvo, Azores, 2011