“The convergence of biotechnology and IT, applied to landscape and urban design, is one of the more promising future developments for our civilization.”
– Claudia Pasquero (TAB 2017 Curator)
The Tallinn Architecture Biennial (TAB) is an international festival of architecture and urban planning that continues the tradition of the Nordic-Baltic Architectural Triennial held in Tallinn in the 1990s. TAB is organised and produced by the Estonian Centre of Architecture, which in the run-up to the biennial holds a competition to select a curator and theme. The inaugural TAB was held in 2011, with that year’s theme being landscape urbanism. The second biennial dealt with topics related to finding new ways of using Soviet architectural heritage, and the last biennial, in 2015, examined changes that the city will face with the advent of self-driving cars.
This year, the biennial will be curated by the architect, urban designer and ecologist Claudia Pasquero (UK). The theme she selected, bioTallinn, will examine and challenge understandings of the boundaries between natural and man-made environments. It will examine ways of using biotechnology and information technology in architecture and city planning and highlight some of the most intriguing new figures working in the field. The fusion of biotechnology and IT in the field of landscape and urban design is seen by many leading thinkers as one of the most promising developments when it comes to the future of human society.
TAB serves as a test platform for architects and designers to study innovative nature-friendly construction methods. As an example, a study will be devoted to using the morphogenic potential of the natural environment to create a liveable, pleasant city landscape. This part of the biennial will deal with problems of constructability, embodied energy and ecological footprint. Resource-conserving architecture is capable of generating energy and clean water, as well as making waste safe and cleaning the air.
The programme of TAB 2017 is diverse, with a symposium for specialist circles and events aimed at the general public. The emphasis of the main programme will be on the North Tallinn district of the city, but exhibitions and events will be taking place in different locations all over town. The curator exhibition and vision competition, curated by Claudia Pasquero and her team, will be on display at the Museum of Estonian Architecture.
The symposium at the centre of TAB – devoted to the theme of the Polycephalum City – will be held in the pavilion of the city’s central railway station. Two days of lectures and panel discussions will treat the role of architecture in the context of today’s societal and economic crises and encourage critical inquiry into the notional Anthropocene epoch of geological history. The symposium will be moderated by the place vision strategist, curator, publicist and founder of urbanista.org Lucy Bullivant. Topping the list of presenters are Professor of Experiential Architecture at the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape at Newcastle University Rachel Armstrong, Pathway Leader in MA Art and Science at Central Saint Martins Heather Barnett, the architect and designer Matias del Campo, the Dean and Professor of Architectural Theory in the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Innsbruck, historian, theoretician and curator Bart Lootsma, the lecturer at New York University and founder of Terreform ONE Mitchell Joachim, and the architect, author, educator and ecoLogicStudio director Marco Poletto, among others.
The goal of the installation competition is to promote collaboration between designers and timber producers and to find solutions for adopting the use of biotechnologies in architecture and urban design. According to the competition’s curators Sille Pihlak and Siim Tuksam (part.archi), the competition will offer food for thought to make sense of the role of biological self-organisation, computation technical materials and algorithmic design in the cities of the future. The winning installation, by Gilles Retsin, will be erected in the park area in front of the Museum of Estonian Architecture and will remain open until TAB 2019.
An international exhibition by schools of architecture, bio.schools, will be curated by the Estonian Ministry of Culture architecture and design adviser Veronika Valk and the architect Merilin Kaup. The exhibition offers leading architecture studios the chance to present their latest ideas related to architecture and urban planning. Participants in the international exhibition from schools of architecture come from all levels of university study: bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels. The exhibition will also feature thematic discussions on promoting architectural studies.
A cinema programme will screen architecture films on related themes in collaboration with the Arqitecturas Film Festival. Showings will take place in the Sõprus and Kinomaja venues. An outdoor cinema and animation workshop will take place at Pikakari Beach on the Paljassaare peninsula in Tallinn. This event is made possible in cooperation with Kinobuss MTÜ.
The central location and meeting point for TAB 2017 is the TAB Club, located in a bar with a particularly cosy ambience, Pudel, in Telliskivi Creative City. The club will host lectures, workshops and film evenings. The TAB information point is a dome structure, and the dome structure itself is designed by Jaanus Orgusaar.
The biennial will also be chronicled in the webzine TAB Matter, which will publish content related to the bioTallinn theme: articles, videos and interviews with leading architects, scientists, artists and researchers. The webzine’s editors include Claudia Pasquero, Lucy Bullivant, Marco Poletto and Alice Buoli, and their articles can be found on the TAB 2017 website (tab.ee).