Why do we organise architecture exhibitions? Conventional shows – contexts displaying documentation, technical drawings, three-dimensional models, photographs and videos, frameworks where sketches and drawings are treated as if they were “paintings”, models as if they were “sculptures” and photographs idealising what they depict within strangely uninhabited landscapes – are contrasted by practices of display that focus on a different kind of investigation and offer an uncharacteristic way of involving the public with the show by means of spatial solutions within the exhibition space.
The attitude that characterises the traditional approach to architecture exhibitions inevitably generates a distinction between the visitors that can read and interpret the displayed objects and those who cannot. Hardly any empathy is generated between the exposed objects and the subjects viewing them; often these kinds of exhibitions only try to solve the problem of presenting objects that cannot be transferred into exhibitions spaces.
In the last years we have assisted to the diffusion of exhibitions characterised by different approaches, i.e. shows in which architectural production is presented as an issue which is integrated in a broader critical context and assumes a central role from an unexpected point of view, or exhibitions that concentrate on an emotional involvement of visitors who are not confronted with a specific object and its characteristics, but with the transmission of an experience capable of establishing an intense relationship between the public and the content of the show.
In order to explore these issues, this conference brings together critical contributions related to both the conception and the construction of contemporary architecture exhibitions.
The subjects that are going to be investigated start from the criteria that animate a curator in the development of an architecture exhibition and extend to the relationships between the content of the exhibition and the instruments used for its display. What do we exhibit when we show architecture? Which are the aspects related to the built realm that are considered worth exhibiting and how can we organise the space in order to generate communication? Which is the surplus value offered by the architecture exhibition in the transmission of certain knowledge outside the distribution chain of academic publications and journals? Is this kind of communication necessary?
Regarding the visitors of an architecture exhibition the conference will deal with the question of what type of audience the show addresses. Can the definition of an exhibition’s content, together with the adopted display techniques, influence who the public is going to be? Which are relevant examples of architecture exhibitions that enact practices that distance them from the traditional form of the architecture show and provide a spatial involvement of the visitor and a personal relationship to the exhibited issues?
According to what was said so far, the spatial organisation of the show will play a major role in the conference. Is the architecture exhibition just the presentation of substitutes for buildings that cannot be moved or is it something more? How is the space of an architecture exhibition arranged? Which are the physical devices that allow us to communicate space through the construction of places? Drawings, sketches and three-dimensional models are internal devices of this discipline which have been developed to visualise the design process and have established themselves as indispensable tools for the achievement (construction) of architecture. What further significance do these devices assume in the context of the architecture show? Which role do further instruments like video and photography play in the transmission of knowledge related to this kind of exhibition?
This conference gathers theorists, curators and professionals involved in different phases of exhibition design (including the critical evaluation of the role of the exhibition within the cultural and international panorama) and together we would like to contribute to the analysis of contemporary practices of architecture exhibitions. The attention will focus on the ways an exhibition is able to display space, comment on an architectural idea and generate knowledge through the project.