Curating Architecture

by Vikkie Chen

Institution: University of Waterloo
Year: 2015
Keywords: Architecture; Curating; Exhibitions; Architectural Research; Installations
Record ID: 2058445
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10012/9035


The number and profile of exhibitions centred on architecture has increased dramatically in the past decade. Curating architecture can now be seen as a distinct field. In the current practice, architectural curation has become a creative process of representing and displaying architecture with the specific aim of generating an encounter for the viewer – whether professionals or members of the general public. This thesis identifies trajectories of curation that expand the scope of architectural exhibition beyond the presentation of simulacra of completed buildings – drawings, models, photographs – to include artifacts created during the design, process based installations, experimental structures, simulations and full scale constructions. Presenting architecture in new contexts, outside traditional gallery and museum spaces, as a process, as research and at full scale allows exhibitions to explore ideas and issues that are otherwise difficult to express and examine. The multidisciplinary facets of contemporary architecture – with its complex relationship to culture, politics and other fields such as art, history and engineering – can now be investigated and discussed in a more generative fashion and the latent layers revealed and activated. Unlike the artist, the architect does not consider the exhibit a final product; rather it is a tool for disseminating designs to the public, discussing issues among disciplines and experimenting with forms, materials, techniques and ideas. This thesis emerges from research on architectural exhibitions and interviews with practicing curators. It explores the potential of exhibitions as places of mediation, interaction, education, conversation, deliberation, inspiration and experimentation. The document presents a cross-section of institutions and organizations engaged in mounting public displays on architecture. It presents actual curatorial activities in which the author played a role. The development of BRIDGE Waterloo Architecture is the result of an aspiration shared by students and members of a community to create a public platform for exhibitions and events that enhances the overall levels of architectural awareness and cultural intensity. A discussion of three sample exhibitions, each representing a distinct curatorial trajectory, along with the No Small Plans, one of eight exhibitions in the Building Waterloo Region program (2014), identifies and assesses specific practices and techniques of curating architectural exhibitions Overall, this thesis endeavours to give a contemporary and expanded view on the theory and practice of curation and architectural research.