Metropolis: Timely, Urban, and Contextual: The Venice Architecture Biennale’s Most Thought-Provoking Pavilions

“Dutch Pavilion
BLUE: Architecture of UN Peacekeeping Missions

Malkit Shoshan, founder of the architecture think tank FAST and curator of the Dutch pavilion, has spent the past decade researching the intersections between architecture, politics, and human rights, particularly in conflict zones. For this year’s biennale, Shoshan examined the UN’s bases around the world, which have historically taken the form of enormous, militarized compounds inside and around cities (170 to be precise), and explore how these compounds could better achieve their peace-keeping missions. After all, as Shoshan explains, every UN base should represent diplomacy, defense, and development; existing complexes give tribute to defense only.

Shoshan proposes redesigning UN bases so that these “militarized islands” can have a more symbiotic relationship with local inhabitants. These walled-off hubs typically shelter vital resources, in terms of physical assets as well as knowledge. Shoshan asks how design could encourage a sharing of such resources even after the UN has vacated the region. For example, a base could build a hospital at its periphery, where urgent medical resources could be shared with local inhabitants. Vital drainage infrastructure could similarly be shared, helping to prevent diseases that all too often leave cities unstable and vulnerable to conflict. The key, according to Shoshan, is abandoning the 20th-century mindset of fences and compounds and embracing a perspective that considers integration from the very beginning.”

By Vanessa Quirk

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