An exploration of the architect's new relationship with resources, including mycelium
In "In Vivo", Bento and Vinciane Despret question our system of extractivist production by identifying and developing construction alternatives using materials derived from living organisms and the imagery that accompanies them. Their installation experiments with natural, living materials, including raw earth and mycelium (the vegetative part of fungi) on a large scale, while the Pavilion catalogue explores our future condition in light of this little-known world.
The curators have turned the Belgian Pavilion into a place where alternative resources from the world of construction can be experienced in a sensitive way and where the development process of some of them can be played out.
In the central room, the curators use natural, living materials, experimenting with the installation of panels of mycelium (the vegetative part of fungi) in a spectacular wooden structure (12m long x 6m wide x 6m high) and resting on a floor of raw earth from excavated soil. This provides an opportunity for visitors to experience the sensory, tactile, acoustic and poetic characteristics of these materials. Mycelium, wood and earth all stem from the urban area of Brussels with a view to an ultra-local, sustainable supply. The structure has been designed to be specifically dismantled and its elements will be given a second life in Venice by the local company Re-Biennale, which has been appointed to assemble and dismantle the installation.
With the adjoining rooms dedicated to the process of experimentation and fabrication of the installation created by Bento, the installation is akin to one of the "laboratories of the future" that the curator Lesley Lokko has called for in this 18th edition. It is an open door to another way of creating architecture, based on local resources, which is conducive to the emergence and development of new channels for living materials in Belgium and beyond...
The catalogue is presented as a narrative of anticipation that the advent of the 'mycelocene', a new era characterized by the recognition of sponges and their relationship with humans, and takes as its starting point the proposal made in 2023 by the Bento architects by looking at the possibilities it opens up.
Based on clues and fragments collected by Christine Aventin and Vinciane Despret, this investigation brings together a variety of archives, including correspondence, extracts from mycological and philosophical texts, an anthropologist's field notebooks, and reports by psychologists, historians and experts in therolinguistics (the discipline that studies non-human languages and literature).
The text evokes the entanglement of mycelium networks that are at the heart of the research on materials exhibited at the Belgian Pavilion at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition in the form of a heterogeneous, non-linear whole that brings together current scientific research and fictional proposals.
Founded in Brussels in 2019 by Florian Mahieu, Charles Palliez and Corentin Dalon (graduates of the Faculty of Architecture La Cambre Horta of the Free University of Brussels), Bento is an association of architects that puts the experimentation of matter at the centre of its reflections. Living matter questions the sustainability of our current production methods and their impact on our way of life. Starting from this observation and/or this obligation, Bento's architects make a point of exalting it, of going beyond it, to build a bridge between architecture, art and design.
It is on the basis of these reflections that Bento was awarded the Europan 16 prize on the CIVA site in Brussels. Florian Mahieu (born in 1993 in Saint-Ghislain, Belgium), Corentin Dalon (born in 1993 in Lyon, France) and Charles Palliez (born in 1993 in Lille, France) are currently participating in the development of mycelium recipes, in order to bring Bento to a new scale, by structuring a Belgian sector with producers and a microbiologist, who are also present in the team.
Vinciane Despret (born in 1959 in Brussels, Belgium) holds a doctorate in philosophy and a degree in psychology from the University of Liège, where she is now a lecturer. She also teaches ethology and psychology at the (French-language) Free University of Brussels. She has written numerous books, the best known of which are Au bonheur des morts (To the Joy of the Dead) and Habiter en oiseau (Living as a Bird). She has curated exhibitions in Belgium and abroad, given numerous lectures and directed several research projects.
The installation has been produced with the collaboration of Corentin Mahieu (designer), Juliette Salme (anthropologist), Corentin Mullender (Microbiologist), Etienne Blais, Elise Elsacker, Simon Vandelook, Eveline Peeters, Lars Dittrich (VUB/ Researchers) and Kluut (Paul Thoreau & Rodolphe de Brabandere, Video).
Providers: BC materials (earth), Sonian Wood (wood), Permafungi (mycelium panels).
The catalogue has been produced with the collaboration of Juliette Salme, anthropologist, Christine Aventin, novellist and Studio Le Roy Cleeremans, designer and typographist.
Public structural Partner
Reynaers aluminium & Forster