By Freecell and M-A-D
To create an engaging installation of an archive, Freecell devised a system of banners suspended from an open scaffold—evoking the notion of city flags, which provide a sense of belonging and civic pride. When pulled down for closer reading, the banners trigger the movement of counterweights which are each inscribed with interventionist tactics.
M-A-D assigned a semantic bar code to each project, which is described on the banner’s flip side. Wending across the floor is a timeline that narrates the history of city-making and points out key precedents in urban activism. The bold floor graphic serves as a counterpoint to the urban aspirations hanging above.
Interboro borrowed standard-issue items from the city of Venice—the emergency sidewalks, called passerelle, used to navigate the city’s acqua alta, or high waters—to compose an “outdoor living room” that will host a series of programs scheduled to take place during the three-month Biennnale. Dubbed Commonplace, the courtyard can be set up for lectures, socializing, and play. After the exhibition, its components will be given back to the city.
Freecell is a Brooklyn, N.Y.–based design and fabrication studio founded by Lauren Crahan and John Hartmann. Together they pursue an active professional practice and a course of experimental work, which is strengthened by their drawing, modeling, prototyping, and fabricating skills. Their site-specific installations, which question the use and perception of space, have been exhibited at SFMOMA, Henry Urbach Architecture, and Artists Space galleries. Freecell’s recent work includes “Point to Line,” a public art commission at the University of Akron, and custom furniture for fashion designer Alexander Wang. For the U.S. Pavilion, Freecell designed an exhibition that spans five galleries, with 124 banners—each featuring one of the spontaneous interventions—suspended from an open scaffold. Visitors can pull each banner down to eye level to view the material. “People are being asked to actually physically engage with the work,” Lauren says, “which we are excited about because the projects being exhibited are so physical.”
Interboro Partners is a New York–based office of architects, urban designers, and planners. Led by Daniel D’Oca, Georgeen Theodore, and Tobias Armborst (pictured left to right), the firm strives to improve cities through innovative, experimental design ideas. Interboro’s awards include the MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program, the AIA New York Chapter’s New Practices Award, and the Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices and Young Architects awards. In designing Commonplace, the courtyard for the U.S. Pavilion, Georgeen says that the curators challenged the team to consider “the commons,” truly public space that invites a multitude of uses. Interboro developed a flexible “outdoor living room,” with movable components that can be easily configured for workshops, lectures, socializing, or children’s play. Touching on key themes of the exhibition, Georgeen says, “The ideal of the American City is not some imagined utopia where we start from scratch. It’s working in the places we know, cracking them open with imaginative uses of existing and new tools to make a more inclusive city.”