Venice 2016 – If architects care about the comfort of their paying clients, why shouldn’t they also care about the actual people who physically build the vision they sold to the clients? With the Fair Building exhibition, Poland pavilion at 15th Venice Architecture Biennale focuses on what curators believe to be one of the many frontlines of the profession: to create fair-trade buildings that respect the work of those who make architecture, one brick at the time.
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“Today we are more concerned about chocolate bars and free range eggs than buildings and spaces that frame contemporary society” says curator Dominika Janicka to ArchiPanic. Construction workers’ labour conditions, lack of respect and site accidents are often overlooked in favour of deadlines, budgets and the public demand for news spaces. “Why don’t building come with fair trade marks like clothes and food profucts?”.
The pavilion within the Giardini is divided up into two parts. The main section is made up of a module scaffolding installation that forms a direct physical connection to the building site. Documentary videos are screened simultaneously, featuring stories about construction workers, each focusing on a key angle to the industry’s work conditions and construction works characteristics.
The other part of the exhibition resembles an investor’s showroom apartment wth screen and fancy funriture. On a wall immediate infographics explore the industry in numbers. How many “human units” are involved in the construction business compared with the people who manage from an office? How many of them are not legal? How many do not report injury fearing to loose their job? How many work with a subcontractor that delays payments?
Exhibition curator Dominika Janicka says to ArchiPanic: “Questioned about the death of hundreds of workers building her stadium in Qatar, Zaha Hadid once said that builders working conditions were not her duty. With the Fair Building exhibition we aim to raise the consciousness for all architects, not only archistars, but also those who build smaller projects and visit the construction site every week”.
Initially we wanted to focus on architects’ working conditions, but after recent news about an crane-accident injuring workers in Poland we realised that we should focus on the begininning of the architecture work-chain”.
We don’t focus on looking for culprits responsible for the abuses occurring at the various stages of the construction process. Rather, we create a space to reflect on how to make this process not only effective but also fair”.
All photos by by Maciej Jelonek – Courtesy of Polish Pavilion.