New Forms of Living: Rural vs. Urban – Polish Pavilion & Saudi Pavilion

Conversations on Venice brings together architects, educators, curators and community organisers who are involved in the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale. Originally scheduled to open in May 2020, the Biennale was postponed by a year to 2021 as a result of Covid-19. The theme chosen by Hashim Sarkis, the curator of this edition of the Biennale, How Will We Live Together? was more prophetic than anyone originally realised, with all participants having an additional year to reflect on not just their contributions but the role of architecture in a time of crisis. This series of conversations invites a selection of national pavilions and Biennale contributors, most of whom have connections to the AA, to discuss common themes that span across their installations in Venice and beyond to address issues of care, mutuality, context, collaboration and above all togetherness.

At a time where we are facing crises on multiple fronts, from climate to public health, what are the ways in which architecture can respond? In this conversation between the curators and architects of the Polish and Saudi Pavilions, they will each propose models for living, dwelling and planning through the research displayed in their pavilions. While the Polish Pavilion looks at the European post-socialist countryside, developing new opportunities and strategies for reintroducing the commons into the rural, the Saudi Pavilion moves beyond the domestic to look at the urban enclosures needed to accommodate large groups of people as a result of pilgrimages or pandemics, with architectures that sit at the intersection of quarantine, hosting and housing. Together they will debate the conditions needed in these contrasting rural and urban contexts to test and propose new forms of living.

Wojciech Mazan is an architect, he graduated with an MPhil in Architecture and Urban Design (Projective Cities) from the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London with a distinction, and with an MSc from the Faculty of Architecture of the Wrocław University of Technology and studied at the Rotterdam Academy of Architecture and Urban Design. In 2017 he co-founded architectural practice PROLOG, which curates the Polish Pavilion at the Biennale Architettura 2021 presenting the project ‘Trouble in Paradise’ concerning the Polish countryside. Mazan is an editor of the book accompanying the ‘Trouble in Paradise’ exhibition and co-editor of a Polish quarterly magazine RZUT. He works as a research associate at the Royal College of Arts in London.

Hussam Dakkak is an architect based in London. He is a partner at Studio Bound, and has served as the program director of the AA Jeddah Visiting School since 2015. Hussam holds a masters in Architecture from the Architectural Association in London and is an ARB registered architect. Hussam completed his professional training at Squire and Partners in London working on a number of notable developments with British Land, Lodha, Emaar in Dubai and Wafra in Kuwait. Hussam currently serves as a design and development lead for Rassmal. Hussam also serves as a consultant on a number of cultural and architectural projects with PIF and the Royal Commission of Makkah. Hussam has lectured at LSE, Harvard University, the AA and continues his research and design work with Studio Bound.

Murtaza Vali is a critic, curator, and art historian based in Sharjah and Brooklyn. His ongoing research interests include materialist art histories, ex-centric minimalisms, the weight of color, and contemporary art of the Indian Ocean littoral. A recipient of a 2011 Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant for Short-Form Writing, his criticism regularly appears in Artforum, Frieze and among other international art periodicals and he has contributed essays to catalogues accompanying exhibitions at non-profit institutions and commercial galleries around the world. Vali is also a Curator-at-large for the 2nd FRONT Triennial in Cleveland in 2022 and an Adjunct Curator at the Jameel Arts Centre in Dubai, where he organized the widely acclaimed inaugural group exhibition Crude, which explored the relationship between oil and modernity across West Asia. A Visiting Instructor at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, he has been a Lead Tutor (w/ Uzma Z. Rizvi) of Campus Art Dubai and a Lead Mentor for the Hayy: Learning Curatorial Fellowship.


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