Posts Tagged ‘green belt’

Interview with Pablo Georgieff from Coloco @ Venice Biennale

We live in an epoque in which the end of the resources and the rise of global population force us to choose between war or conviviality.
As declared partisans of the latter option, we need to learn how to economize all that it is not renewable, and to recycle everything as much as we can.
Time will be an essential component of our work, as we have to deal with life. Today, we are called to think at the reversibility of our manufacts, without capturing resources and creating constrains which will narrow the future choices.

Coloco is a Paris-based collective of “explorers of urban diversity”. Rather than a conventional architects, people at Coloco think themselves more as

Active gardeners, we don’t recognize ourselves into the corporative borders of our discipline. On the contrary, we became a symbiotic structure aggregating knowledge and skills we need for every different project. A living structure evolving in response to the environment.

We had the chance to meet Pablo Georgieff at the Venice Biennale. Here’s a report of our talk.

Would you like to explain to us the theme of your installation here at the Biennale?

Our presentation here at the Biennale is just a mosaic of some projects that we have been working on in the last eight or nine years. It’s kind of a genealogic tree connecting projects with one another, sort of families of projects: our works on abandoned buildings, on spontaneous gardens in the cities, landscape works from very small individual gardens to the green belt we are now working on in Tripoli, Libia. It’s a cross-scale project with some topics that we are interested in, that we think important for our practice and that we call Urbanodiversity.

Can you explain the idea behind this term?

Urbanodiversity is the idea that the city’s richness depends on variety of activities, situations, living beings that can be hosted in it, and it is the opposite of the generic, monotonous, functionalist city.
We believe that very different interesting situations can occur in accidents, in small places, in what we call ‘turbulences’ of the flux of people, materials and information of the city, where creative behavior, new experiences, new solutions can be born.

You use the metaphor of fluid dynamics in the city…

We see urbanism as an ‘aerodynamic’ discipline, based on movement, fluxes and energy, and no more based on dead matter and materials, as it was in the past.
We think that it is necessary now to work seriously on the living, human material of the city. The city is not just a collection of bricks, or more or less sophisticated materials in more or less fancy shapes, but it’s also a set for relationships, for stories, for love and hate. This is something we would like to use as material for our projects. We don’t mean to quantify human parameters in the way social disciplines do, but to engage individuals into action.

You also present a different insight on nature, different from the idea we are used to

We always want to remind that there’s nothing ‘behind’ nature. Nature is not opposite to anything, because everything is part of nature. There are just different environments, different equilibriums. We have been consulted last year by the municipality of Paris asking us where the new nature spaces in Paris would be. We answered that there would be no new nature spaces, for nature is already everywhere. We proposed to call this project ‘Welcoming Diversity’. It’s about creating the living conditions for life forms and the relationships between them.

That’s not really a common task for architects. For example, in the Arsenale you can’t even touch objects that are supposed to be furniture. Weird situation. Our job is supposed to be about hosting life… Of course there are also positive examples: now this interview is taking place at the Biennale in a semi-underground space with lots of cushions on the floor, outside it is raining very heavy and this has become a very interesting place: everybody is talking with one another, meeting. In this Biennale places to exchange ideas are very rare, and this space is a real success just because we can use it and it is welcoming.

What are the tools you developed to achieve, or to deal with, this Urbanodiversity?

We are trying to work on tools that help us to integrate time in our projects. It is not a thing completely out of the blue, or completely new, or never seen, but we are trying to introduce chronograms as information-exchange and project-driving tools with the clients. We were thinking about how to improve participation, working together, operational sequences to give also the possibility to have spontaneous collaborations, to have optimizations, to have inventions. To do that, you always have to know what is going on, in what sequences, what is necessary to do first, what you have to prepare in order to make things happen, etc.
For example, next year we will have this project in Brazil for the French cultural season. After some proposals and negotiations we have been given a 20-storey building from the Sixties in the center of the city which is now empty. We have suggested activating it as a cultural laboratory during the eight months of the season. Also, it will serve as a negotiation platform to decide what to do with this building, to see if an entity emerges out of this experience that can make this building function with a mix of dwellings, cultural workshops, communication, etc.
In this experience we really don’t know what is going to happen: our aim is to set up the tools by which all people involved can share ideas, and finally act together. This is what we call ‘process architecture’, which is not about the final form, but how we can work with one another, how you can find places where you can discuss, making the project evolve and in the end to create the possibility to really invent something together.

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