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XIX Milan Triennale

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The near and the far, fixed and in flux: some design perspectives on the urban experience.

In 1995 Lucy Bullivant was officially invited to be British Commissioner of the official British exhibition at the XIX Triennale di Milano, staged from February to May 1996.

The exhibition she curated for this event explored the proposition that new forms of social space in the city are increasingly conceived as a heterotopic fabric, transient, contestatory and continually interrupted. It presented a selection of projects showing how architectural sensibilities are responding to the experiential dimension of urban living through various means.

The near and the far considered how architecture can generate strategies from the notion that the near (intimacy, privacy, comfort) has an equal status with the far (the desire for communality, conviviality), and the familiar needs the unfamiliar. The near (the enclosure) can engage with the far (the surrounding landscape), and (as the present) need not deny the far (the past) for it, too, but draw out what is still of value. Gregarious space is better for being undefined, physical and telematic space can be fused in a dislocation we feel close to. Protecting, stitching and mending the urban landscape is an act informed by the conditions of everyday life that both divide and unite but always provide potential for change.

The project was a formal response to the theme set by Pietro Derossi, the Director of the XIX Triennale di Milano, 'Identity and Difference: integration and plurality in today's forms. Cultures between the ephemeral and the lasting'.

Projects exhibited include Alsop & Störmer's scheme for a new site for the Institute of Contemporary Arts over the Thames at Blackfriars on the supporting structure of a removed railway bridge; the Architecture Research Unit's schemes for the Reconstruction of the Souks of Beirut, Lebanon and Nara mats, Japan; Birds Portchmouth Russum's Croydomia (regenerating through new uses of multi-storey car parks) and East London road retro-design; Dunne + Raby's Fields and Thresholds project about the blurring between physical and telematic space through a multi-sensory threshold; Patel Taylor's Thames Barrier Park in Silvertown, East London; Sauerbruch Hutton's scheme for Stadmitte Marzahn, Berlin; and the Sportstadion Chemnitz, by Ulrich Königs, Peter Kulka and Cecil Balmond/Arup.

Curator: Lucy Bullivant
Exhibition design: Emma Webb, Cartlidge Levene, London/Nick Bewick, Milan
Video director: Lucy Bullivant
Supported by: Cultural Relations Department, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, London; Visual Arts Department, British Council, London;
British Council, Rome; British Council, Milan; Interdean, Isometrix, IGuzzini, Barclays Bank, Milan