During its construction and once again when it is demolished, a building is a formless mountain of different sorts of accumulated materials. “Cycles. The Architects Who Never Threw Anything Away” – exhibition of the 6th edition of the Lisbon Architecture Triennale – addresses the role of architecture within the endless processes of transformation and redistribution of matter and showcases the possible encounter between architecture and sustainability, economy, heritage and memory.
Understanding the exhibition as a mediation and communication device, the exhibition design should primarily exist for and with the curatorship, being able to grasp and materialize its sagacity.
Cycles takes on several features that bring the show closer to the lexicon of an art exhibition rather than a conventional architecture exhibition. The nature and scale of various artworks instigate the exploration and display of their spatial dimension and eminently performative nature. Hence, and also as a means to designing an exhibition for pieces with such distinct features, inciting this spatial dimension – even where it may not be cardinal – through their placement, the design of their display devices and the lighting design, enables new and unexpected forms of interaction with the artworks and the venue space. The outcome is closer to a multi-sensory, diverse experience, rather dramatic than monotonic.
In the curatorial references of the home improvement retail store, the warehouse and storage room, we find spaces whose prime function is to host the structures that enable separating, organising, labelling and storing. These structures are paramount as they are all there is. They divide, classify and hierarchise space and circulation, defining aisles, sections, centres, dead ends.
Unlike the Enlightenment museum, or the cabinet of curiosities, the warehouse is not conserving, showcasing or exhibiting exotic or notable objects. And neither are these anonymous structures significant due to their sophistication and aesthetical virtuosity, but due to being flexible, versatile and efficient.
Coincidentally, Garagem Sul is not a museum. And its eminently functional matrix not only enables relinquishing the codes and devices of musealization, but also states an absence of intimacy, essential to the natural exercise of imagining it transformed into a warehouse.
The materials and components that shape the exhibition design have different provenances, and past lives with other usages and meanings. And they may also desirably follow future destinations.
As a provisional configuration for the elements that will shape it, the exhibition design closely relates to the principle of resignification, as well as to the temporary character, per se, of an exhibition. But also, the uptake of construction and demolition as equivalent processes of a cycle, thus tending to use unfinished materials, exposing the assembling process and the infrastructure as its finishing.