Welcome to Eurotopie! The last utopia, the only great narrative which can confront nationalism, a new collective identity. Curators of the Belgian Pavilion Traumnovelle and Roxane Le Grelle extend an invitation to pursue the construction of Europe as a political ideal. They offer a glimpse of what Europe may be and how space-makers may learn from the supranational city.
Eurotopie, the selected project for the Belgian Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale of 2018, will address the issues and challenges tackled by the European Union. Despite being the E.U’s principal territorial, physical and symbolic anchorage, the European Quarter in Brussels seems in no way to contribute to a collective European identity. The relationship of the European Quarter with its host city, however, is ambiguous.
According to the curators Traumnovelle and Roxane Le Grelle, Europe is the only great narrative which can effectively counter nationalism and extremism. With Eurotopie, they hope to arouse political commitment in European citizens and extend an invitation to pursue the construction of Europe as a political ideal as well as its anchorage in Brussels. They also address architects and space-makers in considering how the European democratic space can be constructed, and how it can cohabit with Brussels.
The Venice Architecture Biennale
One of architecture’s major worldwide events, the Venice Architecture Biennale takes place every second year from May to November, alternating with the Art Biennale. Exhibits take place both in the Arsenale and in the national pavilions of the Giardini. For the 2018 edition, curators Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of Grafton Architects have called for national curators to consider their contributions as Freespace. They define Freespace as spaces which testify to the generosity and humanity which are at the roots of architectural practice.
The Belgian Pavilion
Eurotopie will occupy the Belgian Pavilion for the six-month exhibition. Built in 1907 by Léon Sneyers and renovated several times since, it is the oldest Pavilion in the Giardini. It boasts high ceilings and beautiful natural light as well as a prime location along the major axis of the Giardini. At each edition of the Architecture Biennale, creatives from Flanders and Wallonia are alternately selected to curate the Pavilion. For this edition, Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles (FWB) and Wallonie-Bruxelles International (WBI) launched an open call and selected Eurotopie to represent Belgium
A Young and Multifaceted Team
Traumnovelle, a young architecture research office, initiated the project. Traumnovelle, which defines itself as a militant faction, uses architecture and fiction as analytical, critical and subversive tools to emphasize contemporary issues and dissect their resolutions. Its three members, Léone Drapeaud (born in 1987, graduated in 2015), Manuel Leon Fanjul (born in 1990, graduated in 2016) and Johnny Leya (born in 1990, graduated in 2015) regularly contribute to architectural research through writing, reviews and exhibitions. Traumnovelle has joined forces with Brussels-based architect and art historian Roxane Le Grelle. The four curators are all architects from Faculté d’Architecture ULB La Cambre-Horta in Brussels. They are working with Sébastien Lacomblez, artist and designer, as artistic director. They have gathered a multidisciplinary creative team including photographer Philippe Braquenier, philosopher Bruce Bégout, artist Claire Trotignon and graphist 6’56’’ (Jurgen Maelfeyt). The curators herby underline their desire to foster interdependent approaches and methods and to open fields of exploration at the crossroads between disciplines.
A Project for Europe
Brussels is where Europe has, for several decades, been taking place. Beyond a shared space, the existence of the European Quarter in Brussels is a survival requirement both for Europe and for Brussels. Although the European Quarter can be considered as the spatial expression of the European political system, it is, for reasons such as history, morphology, finance and security, impervious to citizen empowerment. By accepting the role of hostess of the common venture called Europe, Brussels has de facto accepted the responsibility for its spatial anchorage. Eurotopie therefore offers to create the European Quarter’s lacking civic space within the Belgian Pavilion itself, and thus to entice visitors to ponder, discuss, debate and, ultimately, to commit to constructing Europe.
Commissionner Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles (initiative de la Cellule architecture), en collaboration avec Wallonie-Bruxelles International
Curators Traumnovelle & Roxane Le Grelle
With Bruce Bégout, Philippe Braquenier, Sébastien Lacomblez, Dennis Pohl, Claire Trotignon and 6’56’’ (Jurgen Maelfeyt)
read more about La Biennale di Venezia 2018 here!