A couple of weeks ago we took our students to the Venice Architecture Biennale to take part in the Swiss Summer School Program: Lucius Burckhardt and Cedric Price – A stroll through a fun palace. On invitation of its curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, they spent a week in the Swiss pavilion in order to explore ‘decentralization’ – the cross-cutting theme of this years’ design as politics studio. Inspired by the Scottish referendum, the Catalan call for independence and being in the Veneto region -which also has a strong desire of autonomy– we took the opportunity to take a closer look at the Europe of regions under the heading ‘The Double Death of Welfare and the Nation State.’
Divided in groups, the students were asked to develop a utopian vision for these three autonomous regions and to design their first pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Below you find the results:
#1 The People’s Lottocracy of Scotland
The recent Scottish referendum was debated not only on the basis of national identity but also on notions of justice and equality. These stem not from a regional identity but from disenchantment with dysfunctional democratic processes.
The ‘Scottish students’ therefore developed a future vision for Scotland organized ‘lottocratically,’ in which a series of lotteries have replaced normal systems within society in which the hours of labour, leisure, GDP and housing are considered required towards achieving the governments broad goals and distributes them unevenly, much in the way that resources are distributed unevenly in 2014. Even the government is elected lottocratically (all citizens may be called upon). Money earned, house, salary and work hours are appointed at random and have no correlation anymore. This is a form of fairness in which everything is not equal but in which all citizens will experience all ways of living – it is our contention that empathy arising from this situation would create a better society. In their pavilion they present, some texts, landscapes, cityscapes and life moments from their People’s Lottocracy of Scotland.
#2 Veneto – Production, Polenta, Palladio
The “Veneto group” took the regions’ strong economy as a starting point to create a utopic country of production in which not the economic value of production is central, but the production itself. Entering their pavilion, the visitor becomes a product himself. He moves through on a conveyor belt stopping at certain junctions for a given time. Live, work and play are divided in equal amounts of time, just like it will be in the new country of Veneto. The countdown timers distributed all throughout the rooms, associated to each drawing, painting and activity that one can participate and observe within the pavilion. Thereby even the exhibition in the pavilion is optimized and reflects upon the Veneto – the production utopia.
Also the “Catalan students” took the region’s productivity, combined with it’s rich culture and history as the foundation for its utopian future . They came up with a Utopian plan for the independent state of Catalonia, strongly based on enhancing its identity and culture and driven on a extensive education system. Based on this, they developed a utopian education-based society “The School of life“ in which everyone in the Catalonia Republic has to participate in theoretical study and practical production in order to provide for the local needs and for exporting goods & culture worldwide.