Under the title WILL IT SUSTAIN? the Danish Architecture Centre is presenting three international exhibitions on the theme of the paradoxes of sustainability. The exhibitions, Behind the Green Door, The Banality of Good and Shifts can be seen from 7 February to 25 May 2014, in conjunction with a wide range of debates, lectures, film screenings, family activities and guided tours.
Today sustainability permeates all areas of society, especially when it comes to the subject of how our cities, buildings and homes are designed and fitted out. In everyday life too, the sustainable lifestyle is gaining ground and expressions such as "ecology", "waste separation" and "waste of food" have become a natural part of our vocabulary. But sustainability is also a great paradox, and we may never understand it in simple, black-and-white terms. So, rather than truths and answers, the three exhibitions at the Danish Architecture Centre will present visitors with dilemmas and questions.
"We want to give a bit of a shake-up to our common understanding of what sustainability is. That is why we have hand picked three powerful, and very different international exhibitions, which together make up a 'sustainabilityWunderkammer'. Visitors will encounter all sorts of interesting, funny, obscure, nerdy and fascinating approaches to the concept of sustainability, which will hopefully provoke some thoughts.," says Nanna Bjerre Hjortenberg, Head of exhibitions at the Danish Architecture Centre.
600 allegedly sustainable objects from the past 30 years
In the main exhibition, Behind the Green Door, the renowned Belgian curator group Rotor invite the audience to join them on a playful journey through the impact of sustainability on architecture, while taking a both affectionate and critical look at sustainability and green solutions. The exhibition is composed of 600 alleged sustainable objects from architectural offices, companies and environmental organisations from all over the world, which the Belgian curator group have collected over a period of several years. All these items claim to be sustainable, but in Rotor's interpretation this is a temporary truth, and nothing is clear-cut.
Visitors will encounter all sorts of objects: From the solar-powered lawn mower and energy-saving façades to sustainable work clothes and the table shaped according to the grain of the wood. Visitors will be introduced to the paradoxes, which crop up, as soon as you stick the "sustainability" label on something. The many objects are categorised partly by subject, and partly in a chronological order, starting 30 years ago, which winds its way through the exhibition rooms.
"The exhibition is open ended. Visitors are not offered a single narrative that ties everything together. There is no imposed sequence, not one overarching perspective from which to look at things, not one conclusion to be drawn. The exhibition doesn't want to convince the visitor to live his or her life more sustainably, but instead wants to show how the concept of sustainability operates as a powerful agent of change in today's world," says Lionel Devlieger from Rotor.
Urban planning and social sustainability
The exhibition,The Banality of Goodprovides visitors with a different perspective on sustainability. The exhibition approaches the concept from a social angle, in the context of urban planning. It is based on the so-called "New Towns", ideal towns from seven different cities scattered across the world, including Albertslund in Denmark. The ideal, which inspired New Towns, was the common good - the creation of social equality, equal rights and opportunities for the average working population. The towns were built throughout the world in the aftermath of World War II. The exhibition reveals that today many historic New Towns are undergoing major social problems. They have become ghettos, while resources are disappearing from them.
The stories of the seven New Towns have been designed allegorically in the form of wooden triptychs, resembling ancient altarpieces, and inspired by Venetian painting.The Banality of Goodis the creation of Dutch Crimson Architectural Historians under the direction of Professor Michelle Provoost, and The International New Town Institute.
The role of architecture after the financial crisis
The Danish/Dutch Powerhouse Company, in collaboration with the architecture critic, Hans Ibelings, have created the exhibition Shifts, which looks at the influence of the financial crisis on architects and architecture's social role. Shifts spotlights how the global financial crisis of 2008 has affected architecture; what was going on prior to the crisis; and what effect the crisis has had on architects. For example, when architects have designed only 5% of our buildings, is it still relevant to claim that architects are responsible for the way, in which we live and work? And how does the crisis affect architects' future responsibilities?
Exhibitions, which travelled around the world
The three exhibitions have all been presented on international platforms throughout the world. Behind the Green Door was originally created as the main exhibition at the Oslo Architecture Triennale, which took place in autumn 2013.The Banality of Good was conceived for the latest International Architecture Biennale in Venice in 2012, and has since been shown in London and Brazil.Shifts: The Economic Crisis and its Consequences for Architecture was shown in London and Amsterdam in 2013.
Lectures, debates, films and family activities on the subject of sustainability
IS IT SUSTAINABLE? is more than just exhibitions. It is also a rich programme of debates, lectures, film screenings, guided tours and family activities, all of which will take place during the period of the exhibition. For families, who love LEGO, during the winter half-term holiday the LEGO workshop will present them with the various dilemmas, which crop up, when one is building something. DAC will also provide the setting for debates and lectures: on the subjects of sustainability and lifestyle, food and sustainability and much more. Keep an eye on www.dac.dk/kalender