by Center for Architecture
Earlier this month in conjunction with the launch of the 13th annual Archtober Festival, New York City’s architecture and design month, the Center for Architecture celebrated the opening of its latest exhibition, Generation Proxima: Emerging Environmental Practices in Portuguese Architecture, on October 2. In attendance were the seven Portuguese architecture practices (Artéria, Colectivo Warehouse, Gorvell, Nuno Pimenta, Oficina Pedrez, OODA, and Ponto Atelier) whose work is exhibited in the show, which provides an environmentally-oriented overview of emerging architectural practices in Portugal. The work of these firms responds to environmental challenges while engaging with ideas of community, social engagement, and scarcity.
The exhibition is curated by Pedro Gadanho—architect, author, curator, former MoMA curator, and Loeb Fellow at Harvard University—and builds on Gadanho’s recently published book, Climax Change! How Architecture Must Transform in the Age of Ecological Emergency, which discusses how the current environmental emergency will impact the practice of architecture. In recent decades, Portugal’s architectural scene has become increasingly recognized by the world at large, often represented by the widely known work of starchitect Álvaro Siza. For Generation Proxima, Gadanho chooses to spotlight the work of emerging practices who offer contextual forms of craftsmanship and design innovation in the face of the climate emergency, and whose work brings renewed attention to nature and biodiversity. Practices such as Artéria, Colectivo Warehouse, and Nuno Pimenta are applying their scarce resources to environmentally conscious proposals, while others such as Gorvell and Oficina Pedrez are pushing ecological research forward in the domain of building.
In many ways, Gadanho positions Generation Proxima as a global call to action for architects to respond to the challenges presented by the current ecological emergency. Yet, with an artful selection of emerging work, he acknowledges that change begins at the smaller scale of each single architectural practice. Whether by exploring new ecological materials, revising construction methods, using fewer resources, addressing climate justice, or reintroducing nature as a guiding principle, these emergent practitioners point hopefully towards a much-needed environmental shift.
“Generation Proxima spotlights the imperative shift towards environmental consciousness in architectural practice, centered on an emerging cohort of Portuguese architects,” says Jesse Lazar, Executive Director, AIANY and the Center for Architecture. “Architects must usher in a paradigm shift to combat the ecological crisis, not perpetuate it. The Center for Architecture is excited present an exhibition that advocates for context-sensitive craftsmanship and innovative design.”
“I’m incredibly excited that one of the very few exhibition venues dedicated to contemporary architecture in NYC is looking at the urgency with which we must change our daily practices in face of the ongoing ecological emergency,” says curator Pedro Gadanho. “Generation Proxima focuses on the potential of an ‘environmental turn’ in the context of world-recognized Portuguese architecture, but it should be seen essentially as presenting global examples of how any existing, site-specific ‘ways of doing’ architecture can be enhanced towards goals of decarbonization, ecological balance, increased biodiversity, and lower resource use.”
Graphic designers Atlantic New York, in collaboration with FUZE, have created a visual identity for the exhibition by using unique letterforms to spell out “Proxima,” with each letter based on materials and principles from a different studio shown in the exhibition. The result maintains each studio’s distinct point of view, while simultaneously representing how their collective shift towards sustainable design will help improve both the planet and people for generations to come. Adding to the exhibition’s materiality, Generation Proxima features an expansive installation of cork, provided by Amorim, which is used to provide model bases, display structures, and extend to cover portions of the wall in some galleries.
The exhibition will be on view through March 23, 2024.