— 26.11.2O23
Pavilhão de Portugal

— 26.11.2O23
Palazzo Franchetti
Design Teams

Expanding the ephemeral existence of a national representation in Venice, Fertile Futures will involve new generations in the development of solutions for the reservoirs of the future, based on close contact with seven hydrogeographies, exemplifying the anthropocentric action on water, natural and finite resources. 

Young architectural ateliers are encouraged to work with specialists from other disciplinary areas, starting from design laboratories. Based on innovation and mediation strategies which seek to understand different scales of reality, the common imagination of more positive scenarios is encouraged and other ways of performing architecture are also fostered.

Based on local involvement with the specificities of territorially dispersed hydrogeographies, the propositional solutions under development in the Design Teams aim to promote forms of global action, as well as the discussion of new ways of operating at the territorial scale, as well as at the small scale.

Tâmega Basin

Space Transcribers
Álvaro Domingues
Fieldwork map of the Tâmega’s hydro-geography. Drawing, 2023. © Space Transcribers

The water of the Tâmega Basin, once a base for irrigated crops, is now the main resource of one of the world’s largest green water energy facilities in Europe, the Tâmega Electro-Producer System. Measuring and mitigating the impact of this local metamorphosis of the territory, the flora, fauna, and human life, is the challenge taken up by the team formed by Space Transcribers and geographer Álvaro Domingues. Exploring ways of interconnecting different scales and times present in this territory, dialogue is activated, emerging from the mediating capacity of architecture.

International Douro

Dulcineia Santos Studio
João Pedro Matos Fernandes
Work mat during the study trip to the Douro, 2023. © Dulcineia Santos Studio – Laboratório do Douro Internacional, 2023

The team formed by Dulcineia Santos Studio and civil engineer João Pedro Matos Fernandes, focuses on the high level of the banks of the International Douro, a region that is emblematic of the relationship of interdependency and sharing between Portugal and Spain, underlining the relevance of water in the conservation of the soil and ecosystems, in addition to its use as an energy resource and basic necessity for human consumption. Contributing to the fight against desertification in an increasingly depopulated area, they propose the relearning of ancient techniques and natural systems, and the recovery of the symbolic dimension of the natural elements.

Middle Tagus

Guida Marques
Érica Castanheira
About the medium, 2023. © Guida Marques

The impact of the mining industry is evident in the Middle Tagus, in particular in the extensive contamination of the water in the Zêzere River and groundwater. The finding of high levels of heavy metals, above the maximum level recommended by the World Health Organization, is particularly serious at a time when its transfer is being considered, in order to increase the flow of the Tagus River and ensure water supply to the metropolitan area of Lisbon. Rethinking the policies and priorities of extractivism is part of the path trodden by Guida Marques and the environmental engineer Érica Castanheira. They defend the progressive renaturalization of the landscape, in a manifest process of recovery and decontamination, using the political and activist tools of architecture. 

Alqueva Dam

Oficina Pedrêz
Aurora Carapinha
Reconstruction of an artifact used in the decade 2020–2030 to accelerate the process of natural regeneration of the soil and water of Alqueva. Oficina Pedrêz, Porto, Portugal, 2023. @Lara Jacinto

Presented politically as a showcase, the Alqueva Dam is responsible for the extreme transformation of the landscape, with the creation of the largest artificial lake in Europe. Its water makes it possible to respond to emerging energy needs, to attract a growing number of tourists and to contribute to the high productivity of the established agribusiness, simultaneously responsible for contamination and overexploitation of soils. While dealing with the consequences of this change and being alert to the impact on the diversity of ecosystems, heritage structures and social inequality, the Oficina Pedrêz and the landscape architect Aurora Carapinha explore the operational and technical dimension of architecture in the development of devices for decontamination and soil production and in the vision of the future of this region.

Mira River

Corpo Atelier
Eglantina Monteiro
Fractured Aqueduct sketch no.5. Collage and graphite on paper, 2023. © Corpo Atelier

The Mira River is surrounded by a wide irrigation perimeter dominated by investments and exogenous interests, imposed on the established agricultural models of a smaller scale, taking advantage of the pre-existing networks. These high-yield farms contribute to soil and water contamination, as well as to unequal access to water resources and a large deficit of decent working and housing conditions. The team formed by Corpo Atelier and anthropologist Eglantina Monteiro, advocates the political potential of Architecture, based on the creation of “mobilising objects”: an installation denouncing situations of exploitation and overlay, warning of the absence of regulation of this system.  

Lagoa das Sete Cidades

Ilhéu Atelier
João Mora Porteiro
Wall Atlas, 2023. © Ilhéu Atelier

Beyond the blue and green of Lagoa das Sete Cidades, the current processes of eutrophication are emblematic of the damage caused by the romanticised and apparently harmless agricultural activity in the local ecosystems. The team formed by Ilhéu Atelier with geographer João Mora Porteiro, is committed to the utopian(re) imagination of the future of the region, combating the focal point of pollution in the Azorean lagoons, by critically reconsidering land use, in direct collaboration with the social, cultural, heritage and natural dimensions that define the landscape of the Azores.

Madeiran Rivers

Ponto Atelier
Ana Salgueiro
Postal ilustrado do caminho da água. Colagem digital sobre fotografia de Perestrelos, Cabo Girão, Madeira, 2023. © Ponto Atelier

The repeated occurrence of alluvium in the Madeiran Rivers highlights the price to be paid for the rapid and unplanned urbanisation of the territory, on the part of the uncontrolled and “charred” construction sector, and aggravated by the increasingly frequent peaks of precipitation, the result of climate change. The challenge presented to the Ponto Atelier team with the researcher Ana Salgueiro, implies critical reflection on the trauma associated with these events, developing the chance to revitalise the water tables, which are highly artificial today, in an attempt to recover lost resilience

Assemblies of Thought

Supporting and expanding the work developed by the Design Teams, Fertile Futures has a group of consultants, from different disciplinary areas and a wide territorial scope. It constitutes an independent thought laboratory that informs and supports the construction of speculative architectural visions of social, environmental and climate justice, in an active and participatory way, fostering the development of multidisciplinary practices.

The Assemblies of Thought, in multiple locations between Portugal and Venice, allow for the monitoring, support and expansion of all these experiences, deepening and enriching the thematic approach, as well as contributing to “tracing a path for the public”, involving the local, Portuguese and international community in the discussion of the proposed central theme. The consultants are: Álvaro Domingues, Ana Tostões, Andres Lepik, Francisco Ferreira, Luca Astorri, Margarida Waco, Marina Otero, Patti Anahory, Pedro Gadanho and Pedro Ignacio Alonso.

Trienal de Lisboa
Fábrica da Cerveja
Escola Porta 33
Porto Santo
International Summer Seminar

Thematic awareness, collaborative experience, and an understanding of an expanded field of action are shared at the International Summer Seminar. The " temporary displacement” of architecture students from diverse contexts, to Fundão, aims at the horizontal sharing of knowledge, through "direct experience" and the opportunity to establish new dialogues.

Fundão is part of the list of eight Portuguese cities included in the European Union Mission for Adaptation to Climate Change. The municipality is a territory that is deeply affected by water scarcity and highly intensive agriculture, fires and desertification, and simultaneously, is representative of investments in social inclusion and expanding technological developments in the inland region.

With tutoring from the Design Teams and the participation of national and international students, selected by open call and reinforced by institutional partnerships, the intervention materialises in the self-construction of installations scattered throughout the territory, developing strategies for the capture, fixation, use and/or redistribution of water in the municipality of Fundão.

   The International Summer Seminar aims to raise awareness in future generations of alternative ways of doing architecture, favouring the cornerstones and the hopeful future of the project Fertile Futures, beyond the period of the exhibition.

Addressing common and intersecting issues, Fertile Futures defends that a laboratory cannot present known results at the outset and, therefore, collaborating with other disciplinary areas, it promotes the production of speculative investigations, presented in word and drawing form, for an exhibition that thinks about a fertile, sustainable and equitable future, to be presented at the 18th International Exhibition of Architecture – La Biennale di Venezia 2023. In summary, Fertile Futures reiterates the transformative capacity of an architectural exhibition, as a knowledge production platform.