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"Communities at Work" the French Pavilion at the 17th Venice Biennale

Vernacular extensions of KTT apartment buildings in Hanoi (Vietnam) by Christophe Hutin

How will we live together? This question, asked by curator Hashim Sarkis, is at the center of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition organized by the Venice Biennale. The biennale, which will be open to the public from Saturday 22nd May to Sunday 21st November 2021, includes the "Communities at Work" project by architect and curator Christophe Hutin, selected for the French Pavilion. His optimistic answer to Sarkis' question in the face of social and environmental contemporary challenges encourages communities to claim back their living spaces. 

About "Communities at Work," Christophe Hutin says the project "aims to reflect on the meeting between architectural know-how and the inhabitants’ own experiences of their living spaces." This reflection is guided by case studies of architectural spaces designed by communities in France, South Africa, Vietnam and the United States. In these case studies, residents narrate the evolution of their living spaces, their planning strategies for the future or improvisation of changes, and what is at stake behind the management of these spaces. 

The exhibition itself immerses the visitor in the sites, with the projection of films on the walls of the neo-classical French Pavilion. The films invite their spectator to move from one projection to the other, from one world to another, from Mérignac to Detroit, from Hanoi to Johannesburg without a predetermined path. The spectator (themselves a resident) blends in with the inhabitants of the projects, coming face to face with a democratic exercise, the construction of our living spaces, where we will live together.

Beyond the exhibition, "Communities at work" is accessible through its catalogue, structured around the sites chosen by the curator and enriched by the close relationship between texts adopting the point of view of residents, and visual documentation of the spaces. The catalogue is available on the digital platform for the project, which itself extends the exhibition online with extracts from the film montages.It features complementary videos on the topic of conviviality, extracts from the film montages presented at the Pavilion, and finally, short videos on highlights from the Pavilion. As an educational tool, it will leave a trace of this 17th French Pavilion online, but it also aims to be a platform offering various resources for people interested in the topic of conviviality.  You can delve deeper into "Communities at Work" here.  

About Christophe Hutin:

Christophe Hutin is an architect, a researcher at the École d’architecture in Toulouse, and a senior lecturer at the École d’architecture in Bordeaux. He studied and documented the townships of Soweto near Johannesburg and developed renowned expertise about housing and habitats. As the founder and coordinator of the Eunic Studio in Johannesburg (2008-2010), he co-founded the “Learning From” workshop, editions of which have taken place in Detroit, Soweto and Uzeste. Specialized in sustainable architecture based on the economy of construction, he has carried out a number of projects in the fields of housing and cultural facilities. Together with the architects Anne Lacaton, Jean-Phillippe Vassal and Frédéric Druot, he won the Mies van der Rohe Award 2019, for the transformation of 530 social housing apartments in the Cité du Grand Parc in Bordeaux. Christophe Hutin is also a director of short films, a scenographer, and an exhibition curator. 

The French Pavilion of the 17th Venice International Architecture Exhibition is commissioned by the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, the French Ministry of Culture, and the Institut Français.