Plumbing the System
This year’s Dutch Pavilion, will become a testing ground for future-oriented, regenerative and circular design aiming to demonstrate how alternative systems for a more sustainable future might work at a macro scale, while attempting to enact and test real changes on a micro level using the pavilion itself as a trial case.
Architecture can be seen as an articulation of systems – economic, social, political – that shape the built environment and the flows of people, activities, resources and ecologies that it organises and regulates. These systems, often based on extraction and exploitation, can seem so thoroughly entrenched as to appear immutable. But in order to move towards a more sustainable, regenerative and just future, many of these systems will need to be rethought.
Responding to the biennale’s ‘Laboratory of the Future’ theme, the Dutch Pavilion aims to show how alternative systems might work on a macro scale, while attempting to enact (and test) real changes on a micro level – in other words, to think globally and act locally.
On the one hand, the pavilion will present The Waterworks of Money, a series of drawings by architect Carlijn Kingma that intricately translates our complex money system into a spatial environment using water as a metaphor. By mapping the flows of money through society, Kingma illustrates the workings of our financial system and its deeply embedded mechanisms that can both hinder and enable change. Kingma has collaborated with leading thinkers in economics to develop and illustrate tangible alternatives or ‘road maps’ that can lead to a more socially and ecologically regenerative economy.
Zooming in, the pavilion then seeks to test a hypothesis of systemic change by implementing change on itself. Continuing with the metaphor of water – and given Venice’s current water challenges – pavilion curator Jan Jongert of Superuse Studios proposes to integrate a low-tech water retention system in the building. Capturing rainfall can not only supply the pavilion’s water needs, but also make the surrounding garden more resilient. Asking the question of whether cultural events can do more than simply discuss, debate and raise awareness of the urgent issues of our times, the pavilion will document and present the process (and, inevitably, the hurdles and challenges) of undertaking this seemingly straightforward task. What is learned, it is hoped, can act as a guide for future change.
Nieuwe Instituut is the Netherlands’ national museum for architecture, design and digital culture. Located in the city of architecture, Rotterdam, and is commissioner of the Dutch pavilion for the Biennale di Venezia Architettura.
Nieuwe Instituut focuses on important social developments, such as the housing shortage, the energy transition, the rise of artificial intelligence, mobility, and the use of public space. Designers, including architects and digital makers, can make important contributions to these developments. Nieuwe Instituut showcases the work of designers, brings people into contact with each other, and collects, develops and shares knowledge.
Jan Jongert / Superuse Studios
Architect Jan Jongert is a co-founder of the architecture office Superuse Studios. As a designer of interiors and buildings, Jongert works on tactics to enable the transition to a responsible society. With Superuse, he develops tools and processes and realises concrete projects that stimulate local exchange and production, as an alternative to transporting raw materials, products and parts all over the world, whereby much is lost unnecessarily.
Carlijn Kingma is a cartographer, but clearly not in the traditional sense. She is society’s mapmaker, a cultural cartographer. Her astonishing drawings map the intricacies of our complex social systems. Kingma develops an architecture that reveals the social and political power structures we normally cannot see, and allows us to visualise new, alternative futures.
For The Waterworks of Money, she collaborated with Thomas Bollen and Martijn Jeroen van der Linden. Thomas Bollen is a financial economist and a journalist with the Dutch investigative platform Follow the Money. Martijn Jeroen van der Linden is a professor of new finance at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. Kingma's spatial installations are designed and developed by architect Sarah van der Giesen.
Graphic designer and educator Roosje Klap studied graphic design at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy. With her studio ARK (Atelier Roosje Klap) she explores the experimental boundaries of ‘custom-fit design’ through intensive collaborations with other artists, curators, architects, designers and writers. ARK’s research-based interdisciplinary approach epitomises a generation of designers who combine their own work and autonomous practice with commissioned work.
Yannick Verweij is a multi-disciplinary artist working as a scenographer and theatre maker. He studied scenography at HKU University of the Arts Utrecht, The Netherlands and Drama at KASK School of Arts Ghent, Belgium. Verweij has worked in various fields in the (performaning) arts including theatre, dance, opera, puppetry theatre and installation art. His practices include designing sets, costumes, lighting, and video, as well as directing and writing.