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‘Future Islands’, to be shown at Ara Institute of Canterbury

New Zealand’s Venice Architecture Biennale exhibition, ‘Future Islands’, to be shown at Ara Institute of Canterbury

From 6 September 2018 ‘Future Islands’, New Zealand’s second Venice Architecture Biennale exhibition, will go on show at Ara Institute of Canterbury’s Kahukura Building.

The exhibition, which is free to attend, will run throughout the Festival of Architecture (14-23 September). A number of events, including a talk by the exhibition’s creative director, Dr Charles Walker, are planned for the exhibition’s duration.

In 2016, FUTURE ISLANDS was New Zealand’s exhibition at the Venice Architecture Biennale. It was just the second time New Zealand had participated nationally at the globally renowned event.

Since returning home from Venice in early 2017, FUTURE ISLANDS has been exhibited in Auckland, Wellington, Tauranga and Hamilton. Christchurch is the final leg of its New Zealand tour.

The exhibition is comprised of a suspended archipelago of pristine white islands, some several metres in diameter.

The ‘islands’ – shells of fibreglass, carbon fibre or infused hemp – were made by Core Builders Composites, a Warkworth-based company that has also built yachts for Oracle and other America’s Cup syndicates. Arranged on or around the islands are models representing 50 New Zealand architectural projects, which are the work of a large number of New Zealand designers – architects from large practices and small firms, as well as graduates and students – and vary in type, scale and purpose. The models are arranged according to themes devised by the creative team, led by Dr Walker and co-creative director Dr Kathy Waghorn.

“Many have been built, some have not yet been built, and others are purely speculative,” Walker says. “The importance to architecture of speculative work is something we want our exhibition to convey.”

The combination of sophisticated yacht-building technology, recycled materials, data projections, audio-visual installations and hand-crafted elements was employed in FUTURE ISLANDS to offer new, often unsettling, perspectives on architecture in Aotearoa New Zealand and its received relationship to land and culture.

FUTURE ISLANDS, Walker has said, draws upon the narratives of islands as “sites of possibility”, or for “other ways of living”. Exhibition associate creative director Kathy Waghorn says that while FUTURE ISLANDS is about architecture’s possibilities, it’s also about architects’ responsibilities.

“Architecture is changing and its condition is as unsettled as the world in which it occurs,” Waghorn says. “But architects should be optimistic that they can make a difference. They are well equipped to offer alternative solutions to contemporary economic and environmental challenges.”

‘Future Islands’ runs from 6 September until 26 September at the Kahakura Building, Ara Institute of Canterbur (view map).

Images of the exhibition installed in Venice can be downloaded here, and images of the exhibition from Objectspace gallery in Auckland can be downloaded here.


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