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Egyptian Pavilion will spark debate on water sources over The Nile River in Venice Biennale 2023

Egypt Architecture News - May 12, 2023 - 14:00   6377 views

Egyptian Pavilion will spark debate on water sources over The Nile River in Venice Biennale 2023

The Egyptian Pavilion has released details and theme about its exhibition at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice Architecture Biennale 2023. 

Themed as NiLab. Nile as Laboratory, the Egyptian Pavilion, curated by Ahmed Sami Abd Elrahman, Marina Tornatora, Ottavio Amaro, Moataz Samir, Ghada Farouk, will spark an international debate on today's urgent issues such as climate change, water resources, and sustainable development, exploring the development of ideas and projects on the Nile River. 

The exhibition is the result of a program coordinated by Ain-Shams University in Cairo and the Mediterranean University of Reggio Calabria, developed in collaboration with architects and architecture professors from 24 universities in 10 different countries.

Egyptian Pavilion will spark debate on water sources over The Nile River in Venice Biennale 2023

NiLab. Nile as Laboratory. Egypt Pavilion at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. Film “Grand Tour on Nile”, directed by Ahmed Yasser. Image courtesy of Egyptian Pavilion

The Egyptian Pavilion's exhibition, NiLab, will invite visitors to trigger a conversation on design, participation, knowledge and research as "a laboratory for knowledge" to discuss ideas and projects on the Nile. The exhibition aims to generate a platform for reflection on water in the broader context of climate change.

The program of the Egyptian Pavilion will create an immersive space in which visitors can come into contact with the nature of the river, its history and use, and the challenges that arise along its long course.

Along the Nile River, various landscapes and natures have been neutralized over time through interventions that have not listened to the environment or given voice to local cultures. 

In response to this, NiLab proposes to look back at these places and consider the value of architectural design in order to indicate a path towards more aware forms of settlement along the river’s course. Due to its extraordinary geographical dimension, history, natural and anthropic landscapes, the Nile outlines a suitable context for reflection on contemporary issues. 

Egyptian Pavilion will spark debate on water sources over The Nile River in Venice Biennale 2023

NiLab. Nile as Laboratory. Egypt Pavilion at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. Project title: INCLUSIONS in ANOTHER WORLD. The Inhabited Dam. Designing the Three Ecologies (Università di Camerino + Università dell’Aquila, Italy. Project by Luca Galofaro, Stefania Manna with Rok Kuzman, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia.) Image courtesy of Egyptian Pavilion

No other river has been as significant in the history of civilization as the Nile has been in Egypt and in Africa. From the time of the pharaohs to today, the Nile has been and still is the source, center of life, hope, and work of Egypt and the populations settled along its banks. Its geographical dimension shapes natural and anthropic landscapes, feeds cities and productive systems, reserves and agricultural landscapes throughout its basin. 

Egyptian Pavilion will spark debate on water sources over The Nile River in Venice Biennale 2023

NiLab. Nile as Laboratory. Egypt Pavilion at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. Film “Grand Tour on Nile”, directed by Ahmed Yasser. Image courtesy of Egyptian Pavilion

Any alteration of its characteristics can cause the destruction of the enduring balance between living species and historical and natural landscapes and negatively impact the entire world.

The program is structured into 6 themes corresponding to different landscape sections: Nature, Agro, Urbe, Infrastructure, Industry, Archaeology. These themes have been developed on 18 project intervention sites by teams of architects involving the participation of 24 universities from 10 countries.

Egyptian Pavilion will spark debate on water sources over The Nile River in Venice Biennale 2023

NiLab. Nile as Laboratory. Egypt Pavilion at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. Project title: O.A.S.I. KE- MET – Infrastructure of living world. Ke’ Met, a widespread project (Università Federico II, Napoli, Italy + ENSA Paris Malaquais + ENSA Strasbourg, France. Project by Orfina Fatigato, Angela D’Agostino, Christelle Lecoeur, Mathieu Mercuriali, Giuseppe D’Ascoli, Giovangiuseppe Vannelli with Simona Capaldo, Francesco De Falco). Image courtesy of Egyptian Pavilion

The exhibition will showcase a film, titled Grand Tour on Nile, directed by Ahmed Yasser. The collection of projects represents a sort of contemporary ‘grand tour’: agricultural and urban scenarios in dialogue, new centers of innovation, 144 islands as an archipelago of biodiversity, archaeological landscapes, residual voids of industrial reconversions as opportunities to rediscover environmental balances, reconsideration of infrastructure, search for a symbiosis between city and nature.

A paradigmatic picture of territorial and landscape conditions emerges, subject to the architectural design. 

Egyptian Pavilion will spark debate on water sources over The Nile River in Venice Biennale 2023

Nile as Laboratory. Egypt Pavilion at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. Project title: Operative Void.
Planivolumetrical plan showing the new edge/ enclosure, the market square, the water mirror with the new theatre and the walkway to the Nile (Università Mediterranea di Reggio Calabria, Laboratorio Landscape_ inProgress, Italy + Parsons School of Design, New York, USA. Project by Ottavio Amaro, Marina Tornatora with Moataz Samir, Cristiana Penna, Eric Franklin Romeo, Maria Lorenza Crupi). Image courtesy of Egyptian Pavilion

"In addition to representing a critical-cognitive system of the transformations of recent decades in extraordinary sites subject to phenomena of entropy and often degradation, have confronted future scenarios capable of re-establishing balances between nature, artifice and history, together with visions that, without renouncing the language of places and architecture, represent new conditions of living," said curators Ahmed Sami Abd Elrahman, Marina Tornatora, Ottavio Amaro, Moataz Samir,Ghada Farouk.

Egyptian Pavilion will spark debate on water sources over The Nile River in Venice Biennale 2023

NiLab. Nile as Laboratory. Egypt Pavilion at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. Film “Grand Tour on Nile”, directed by Ahmed Yasser. Image courtesy of Egyptian Pavilion

Upon entering the Egypt Pavilion the visitor is immersed in a space-time dimension that leads to assume the point of view of the river. A system of projections breaks down the perimeter of the room, leading the public to follow the long course of the water, from Lake Nasser to the Mediterranean Sea, in an indissoluble and changing reality made up of nature, civilization and history. In the center of the pavilion is a large, surreal presence. 

It is a reconstruction of a Sun Boat, a ritual boat of the ancient Egyptians that traveled through the two skies carrying the regenerated star every day at dawn, thus becoming a religious symbol of rebirth. 

On a table on the left side of the Pavilion is the heart of the research project. Here, visitors have the opportunity to delve deeper into books that summarize the richness of projects and visions and learn about the collective architectural work carried out on the Nile.

Egyptian Pavilion will spark debate on water sources over The Nile River in Venice Biennale 2023

NiLab. Nile as Laboratory. Egypt Pavilion at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. Project title: A friendly giant for rebalancing nature. General view of the “friendly giant” in relation to Karaman Island and its surrounding (Università La Sapienza, Roma, Italy. Project by Fabrizio Toppetti, Viola Bertini with Elisa Donini, Giuseppe Geraci, Marco Rosati, Cristian Sammarco, Maria Virginia Theilig, Francesco Tosetto). Image courtesy of Egyptian Pavilion

On the one hand, the exhibition suggests the need for a reconsideration of the tools and methodologies for the development of architectural design. On the other hand, the program develops a platform for reflection on the relationship between water, nature and territory. 

"The river must remain the center of life and development in Egypt,” added the curators of the Egyptian Pavilion, "through research and cooperation between countries." The exhibition presented at this Biennale does not define a conclusive moment of research but opens up to further reflections to which students, teachers, and researchers are invited to participate in discussing possible future scenarios for the river.

Egyptian Pavilion will spark debate on water sources over The Nile River in Venice Biennale 2023

Nile as Laboratory. Egypt Pavilion at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. Project title: Operative Void. Manifesto (Università Mediterranea di Reggio Calabria, Laboratorio Landscape_ inProgress, Italy + Parsons School of Design, New York, USA. Project by Ottavio Amaro, Marina Tornatora with Moataz Samir, Cristiana Penna, Eric Franklin Romeo, Maria Lorenza Crupi). Image courtesy of Egyptian Pavilion

In addition to the official catalog available to visitors of the exhibition, an additional book will be produced with a collection of the projects and thoughts generated by this unprecedented laboratory.

The Egyptian Pavilion was commissioned bythe Egyptian Ministry of Culture - Accademia di Belle Arti d’Egitto in Rome - National Organization for Urban Harmony and curated by Ain-Shams University in Cairo, Faculty of Engineering (Egypt) and Università Mediterranea di Reggio Calabria, dArTe Department of Architecture and Territory (Italy).

Egyptian Pavilion will spark debate on water sources over The Nile River in Venice Biennale 2023

NiLab. Nile as Laboratory. Egypt Pavilion at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. Film “Grand Tour on Nile”, directed by Ahmed Yasser. Image courtesy of Egyptian Pavilion

The Venice Architecture Biennale 2023 will take place from Saturday 20 May to Sunday 26 November, 2023 at the Arsenale and Giardini venues.

The theme of the 18th Venice Architecture Biennale is The Laboratory of the Future curated by Lesley Lokko

Read more about WAC's coverage about pavilions on Venice Architecture Biennale 2023.

Exhibition facts

Exhibition name: NiLab. Nile as Laboratory

Curators: Ahmed Sami Abd Elrahman, Marina Tornatora, Ottavio Amaro, Moataz Samir, Ghada Farouk

Participants: Ain-Shams University, Faculty of Engineering (Egypt), Università Mediterranea di Reggio Calabria (Italy)

Scientific Committee: Nicola Di Battista, Michael Jakob, Mario Lupano, Gianfranco Neri, Ettore Rocca, Heba Youssef (director Accademia di Belle Arti d’Egitto in Rome)

Collaborators: Cristiana Penna, Ali Elgabaly, Mohamed Hany, Menna Othman, Yasmina Safwat, Salma Mohamed Ali, Malak Tarek, Yara Soliman, Tasneem El Naggar, Nour El Khayat, Donia Elboghdady, Nour Zikry.

Students: Arwa Ehab Abbas, Malak Haytham Weshahy, Wegdan Hossam Faydullah, Yomna Walid Ali, Menna Medhat Qubtan, Omar Mohamed Elnamer, George Rafik Azer, Esraa Ahmad Farrag, Abdelaziz Abdelfattah, Lina Reda Elbaz, Salvatore Iuliano, Giuseppe Oliva, Evelin Rullo.

Top image: NiLab. Nile as Laboratory. Egypt Pavilion at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. Film “Grand Tour on Nile”, directed by Ahmed Yasser. Image courtesy of Egyptian Pavilion.

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