Building Optimism: Public Space in South America
The Heinz Architectural Center, Carnegie Museum of Art
September 10, 2016–February 13, 2017 + summer 2016 micro-show
In recent years, ambitious design for urban life in South America has shown a radical optimism—a belief that planning can strengthen neighborhoods and improve lives.
Spanning projects in Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela, Building Optimism: Public Space in South America investigates ways that emerging architects and designers instigate change through design. And a new collaboration with Ecuadoran architects Al Borde takes a holistic view of Recycle Park in Braddock, PA, exploring the intersection of design, community, play, and public space. Although many of these countries continue to face very real economic and political challenges, these projects reflect a belief in the powerful public role of architecture.
As cities around the world develop and evolve, planners and designers pay particular renewed attention to the fabric of neighborhoods—how people live and interact. The projects in Building Optimism pay as much attention to creating spaces for participation as they do architectural objects and structures. These architects are opportunistic, spotting possibilities within existing sites and tweaking them, often mixing old and new. Eight of the practices in the exhibition have been selected by Alejandro Aravena for this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale. What can the rest of the world learn from South America’s optimistic approach to public space?
Using photography, video, drawings, and models, the exhibition immerses visitors in inventive ways that public spaces become social spaces—sites that respond to the unique circumstances and pressures of their communities. The projects in Building Optimism are documented through photography by Iwan Baan and by Leonardo Finotti and through films made by Cristobal Palma and by Tapio Snellman. OnArchitecture, filmmakers based in Santiago, Chile, have been commissioned to make nine short films for the exhibition.
San Domingo Savio is a sprawling hillside community in the north of Medellín, Columbia. During the difficult days of the 1980s and ’90s, it was afflicted with poverty and conflict associated with the drug trade. The 2007 construction of the Parque España Library complex, designed by Bogotà-based architects El Equipo de Mazzanti , promoted the transformation of the area and a shift in perceptions of the neighborhood. Building Optimism presents filmmaker Cristobal Palma’s and photographer Iwan Baan’s views of this and other recent projects in the context of Medellín.
In Chile, ELEMENTAL (directed by Alejandro Aravena) and Pezo von Ellrichshausen responded to the devastating earthquake and tsunami of 2010 in distinct ways. ELEMENTAL have overseen the reconstruction of the city of Constitución, from infrastructural projects to low-income housing. In the coastal region of Bío Bío, Pezo von Ellrichshausen brought together 10 practices from around the world to design pavilions that function as community gathering spaces, and in the event of disaster, safe retreats for body and mind. The exhibition presents models and renderings of the pavilions.
In São Paulo, Brazil, the Praça das Artes incorporates old and new structures, creating a sequence of public open spaces and buildings for the performing arts at the heart of a tough urban block. The architects, Brasil Arquitetura, have designed not simply a building but an inviting civic forum.
And, here in Pittsburgh, Ecuadoran design collective Al Borde, with local collaborators, propose designs for North Braddock’s Recycle Park that are tailored to the distinct needs for the community. Their ideas occupy an entire gallery in Building Optimism, with a table inviting visitor interaction and engagement through making and sketching activities.
Building Optimism is organized by Raymund Ryan, curator, The Heinz Architectural Center at Carnegie Museum of Art.
- Al Borde, Quito, Ecuador
- Amereida Co-operative / Open City Group, Ritoque, Chile
- Lina Bo Bardi, São Paulo, Brazil
- Brasil Arquitetura, São Paulo, Brazil
- ELEMENTAL, Santiago, Chile
- El Equipo Mazzanti, Bogotá, Colombia
- Gabinete de Arquitectura, Asunción, Paraguay
- Grafton Architects, Dublin, Ireland
- Herzog & de Meuron, Basel, Switzerland
- JPRCR Arquitectos, Medellín, Colombia
- Luis Callejas, Edgar Mazo, Sebastián Mejía (Paisajes Emergentes), Medellín, Colombia
- Paulo Mendes da Rocha, São Paulo, Brazil
- Pezo von Ellrichshausen, Concepción, Chile
- Alberto Campo Baeza, Madrid, Spain
- Adamo-Faiden, Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Johnston Marklee, Los Angeles, CA, USA
- Studio Mumbai, Mumbai, India
- Pezo von Ellrichshausen, Concepción, Chile
- Sean Godsell, Melbourne, Australia
- Paulo David, Funchal, Madeira, Portugal
- Rintala Eggertsson, Oslo, Norway
- Sergison Bates, London, England, UK
- OFFICE KGDVS, Brussels, Belgium
- Plan:b Arquitectos, Medellín. Colombia
- RUA Arquitetos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- SPBR Arquitetos, São Paulo, Brazil
- Urban-Think Tank, Caracas, Venezuela / Zurich, Switzerland
- OnArchitecture, Santiago. Chile
- Cristobal Palma, Santiago, Chile
- Tapio Snellman, London, England, UK
- Iwan Baan, Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Leonardo Finotti, São Paulo, Brazil
General operating support for Carnegie Museum of Art is provided by The Heinz Endowments and Allegheny Regional Asset District. The programs of the Heinz Architectural Center are made possible by the generosity of the Drue Heinz Trust. Carnegie Museum of Art receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Carnegie Museum of Art
Carnegie Museum of Art enriches people’s lives through art. The museum is committed to global engagement and regional advancement. We champion creativity and its importance to society with experiences that welcome, inspire, challenge, and inform. Our core activities—collecting, conserving, presenting, and interpreting works of art—make those experiences possible. Our world-class collection of over 30,000 works emphasizes art, architecture, photography, and design from the 19th century to the present. The Heinz Architectural Center at Carnegie Museum of Art is dedicated to enhancing understanding of the built environment. One of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Art was founded by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1895. Learn more: call 412.622.3131 or visit cmoa.org.
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