Bianca Antunes. Photo:João Cattini Maluf
Bianca Antunes is editor-in-chief for A+U magazine, one of the largest architecture magazines in Brazil. The NAI invited Bianca to the opening of the fifth International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam in April. We asked her four questions about her stay.
1. Was this your first visit to the NAI and if so, what did you think of it?
Yes, it was my first visit to the NAI, and to Rotterdam. As a building, I found the NAI a very welcoming place – it was nice to spend an afternoon working on a few articles in the café, as the faint rays of the sun filtered through the window. As an institution, I felt it was well-organised and very involved with international issues, and committed to encouraging architecture and urbanism to enter into debate locally, while also learning from other cities and countries, exchanging experiences and ideas.
2. You specifically visited the International Biennale of Rotterdam. How does this biennale compare with the Architecture Biennale in your own city of Sao Paulo?
Well, there’s really no comparison. Here in Brazil we should redefine what we expect from a Biennale – is it a place for debate, or just a place to present projects disconnected from each other? Is it a place where you brag about exhibiting your project, or a place where you found amazing ideas, met professionals, discussed your work, your city, ways to realise change – or just keep doing the same thing? A biennale where the highlight of the event is a table with Lego to build a city means it’s time to start thinking about doing it differently.
But, on the other hand, the Rotterdam Biennale isn’t very large. The main exhibition is concentrated in one huge space, with information about solutions from all over the world. This concentrated aspect sometimes makes us lose important issues about the projects on display... But the Rotterdam Biennale has a leitmotif, and the Test Site Idea was just great: working on a project for two years: a project – and thus, an idea – that will be constructed. That planning is the point that makes Rotterdam Biennale different. It really wants to discuss, to put the problems on the table, not the Lego. I could see deep issues, not just exterior design or a battle of egos.
3. Is Brazil in general ready for the huge architectural and/or infrastructural projects it is facing, such as the world cup football and the Olympic Games? How large is the role of architects in this?
It’s a big role. Or it should be. Of course, large buildings are being constructed: stadiums all over the country, museums in Rio de Janeiro, the Olympic Park. Architects from Brazil and international ones – Santiago Calatrava, Herzog & de Meuron, Diller Scofidio + Renfro – also are involved. Richard Meier has just unveiled a commercial building in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro. But a city isn’t just a conglomeration of big buildings designed by star architects – or young, promising ones. And in São Paulo, for example, cranes are crowding the horizon, building standard, look-a-like residential housing blocks or scary commercial ones that see people as consumers, not as citizens. Who’s responsible for that? Who’s responsible for density, huge towers, and transport issues? There’s a myriad of old-fashioned ideas about living: such as the closed communities that are springing up in every city in Brazil.
On the infrastructural side, we have a great project for a new terminal for the international airport in São Paulo, designed by Brazilian architects Biselli & Katchborian, which is wonderful. But it’s estimated that only one third of it will be ready in time for the World Cup. And this leads us to another question: how to travel from the airport to the city when there’s only one – congested – way to make the trip, and that’s by road (or by helicopter, of course).
World Cup Football and the Olympic Games should be a great opportunity for architects – and not just to design grand buildings and become famous, or discuss international architects building in Brazil. It should be a time to think about our cities – a time for architects, urbanists and city institutions to get closer to public power. Our economy is booming, and huge investments are being made. But who knows for certain how long it will last? And rather than leave white elephants, we could leave better cities.
4. Did any specific project, building or person you encountered during your visit to Holland make a lasting impression on you?
There wasn’t a specific project or person. And I think that is the main point. What made a lasting impression on me was the way you look at the city, the commitment, the excitement seen by architects involved in the Biennale, Test City Rotterdam and ZigZagCity. People are really engaged in projects aimed at improving the city and that’s very inspiring to see!
Silas Marti is staff journalist for the Folha de Sao Paulo, one of the largest and most respected newspapers of Brazil. Silas mostly writes on art and architecture. The NAI invited Silas to the opening of the fifth International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam in April. We asked him four questions about his stay.
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The NAI invited four international journalists from Turkey, Brazil and
India to the opening of the 5th International Architecture Biennale
Rotterdam (IABR). The journalists were mr. A. Srivathsan of The Hindu
Newspaper, mr. Silas Marti of the Folha de Sao Paulo, ms. Yasemin Keskin
Enginöz of the YEM Turkey and ms. Bianca Antunes of the Magazine
AU-Arquitetura & Urbanismo.
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The NAI invited A. Srivathsan, deputy editor with The Hindu (India) to the
opening of the fifth International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam in April. We asked him four questions
about his stay.
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Architecture is closer than you think – and isn’t high-flown or difficult at all. Architecture is for everyone! Come and see for yourself – the Hands-on Deck at the NAI is a unique spot at the heart of the museum, specially designed for anyone wanting to try their hand at architecture. You can design and construct your own building, or even an entire world. And the Hands-on Deck is completely free!
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