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Turkish Pavilion explores the transformation of abandoned buildings at Venice Architecture Biennale

Italy Architecture News - Jun 09, 2023 - 11:05   2416 views

Turkish Pavilion explores the transformation of abandoned buildings at Venice Architecture Biennale

The Turkish Pavilion has suspended a series of cloud-like fabrics reflecting the hundreds of abandoned buildings of Turkey at the Venice Architecture Biennale, searching for the possible new ways of transformation in light of the country's earthquakes. 

The exhibition, titled Ghost Stories: The Carrier Bag Theory of Architecture, is curated by SO? founder Sevince Bayrak and Oral Göktaş, is looking at the new ways of transormation by using emerging technologies like Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

Turkish Pavilion explores the transformation of abandoned buildings at Venice Architecture Biennale

Image © Rachele Maistrello

Located at Sale d’Armi, Arsenale, the exhibition documents for the first time the hundreds of abandoned buildings spread across the country and explores the news of how these buildings can be brought back to life at a crucial time for Turkey, which recently suffered from major Turkey-Syria earthquake and economic crisis.

Turkish Pavilion explores the transformation of abandoned buildings at Venice Architecture Biennale

Image © Rachele Maistrello

"We have a huge variety of unused buildings"

"The exhibition draws strength from the radical changes the world of architecture has undergone in the last two decades and suggests listening to and understanding the stories of abandoned buildings, rather than focusing on more heroic, successful examples," said the curators Sevince Bayrak and Oral Göktaş. 

"Since construction in Türkiye is triggered by economic growth rather than spatial needs, we have a huge variety of unused buildings, from hospitals to airports." 

Turkish Pavilion explores the transformation of abandoned buildings at Venice Architecture Biennale

Image © Fatih Yılmaz

"As we were preparing this project, two earthquakes, with magnitudes of 7.7 and 7.6, struck south-eastern Türkiye, causing massive damage." 

"In a country with an enormous building stock that has to be reinforced to resist earthquakes – since it is not possible to rebuild them all – we need to find ways to transform the existing and introduce novel tools and methods to nurture our collective dreams and discussions," the curators added.

At the exhibition, the presented empty buildings range from partially or completely empty skyscrapers, luxury apartments, hotels, schools, hospitals, restaurants, and recreational facilities. 

Turkish Pavilion explores the transformation of abandoned buildings at Venice Architecture Biennale

Image © Fatih Yılmaz

The curators aim to show the potential benefits of unused buildings as a source and the laboratory of the country in response to Lesley Lokko's theme, The Laboratory of the Future

Using AI as a tool, trained in their architectural vocabulary, Bayrak and Göktaş have realised new hopeful visions for each of the uninhabited buildings, showing how people can repopulate and repurpose these spaces for the benefit of the community.

Turkish Pavilion explores the transformation of abandoned buildings at Venice Architecture Biennale

Image © Fatih Yılmaz

The title of the exhibition is inspired by the visionary science fiction author Ursula K Le Guin, whose book,The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction, retells the story of human origin, disputing the idea that the spear was the earliest human tool, and instead tells the story of the carrier bag, the empty vessel that early humans could carry more than can be held in the hand based on Elizabeth Fisher’s carrier bag theory of evolution. 

The exhibition is divided into two sections:The Cloud and The Workbench. 

Turkish Pavilion explores the transformation of abandoned buildings at Venice Architecture Biennale

Image © Fatih Yılmaz

While The Cloud part displays the examples of unused buildings from Turkey, the Workbench consists of fifteen tables that corresponds the fifteen articles of the manifesto: Story, Theory, Addiction, Ghosts, Entropy, Expiry Date, Why Demolish?, CSI, Concrescere, Repair Shop, Venice Charter – Revisited, Learning From, Test Drive, Transformers, The Pool.

Turkish Pavilion explores the transformation of abandoned buildings at Venice Architecture Biennale

Image © Fatih Yılmaz

To support the documentary, the curators also wrote a book based on their manifesto for the Carrier Bag Theory of Architecture, co-published by IKSV and Listlab. The book is available at the Turkey Pavilion in Venice.

Turkish Pavilion explores the transformation of abandoned buildings at Venice Architecture Biennale

Image © Rachele Maistrello

The Venice Architecture Biennale 2023 is taking place from Saturday 20 May to Sunday 26 November, 2023 at the Arsenale and Giardini venues in Italy. 

The theme of the 18th Venice Architecture Biennale is The Laboratory of the Future curated by Ghanaian-Scottish architect, academic, and novelist Professor Lesley Lokko.

Read more about WAC's coverage about the biennale pavilions on Venice Architecture Biennale 2023. To see more pavilions from this year's biennale, you can also visit WAC's Instagram/Reels for exclusive videos.

Top image © Rachele Maistrello.

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