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The Venice biennale, that was postponed due to the pandemic, has gathered 61 participants this year. Among them is also the exposition «It’s not for you! It’s for the building» created by the architect’s office «NRJA», which focuses on the contradictory relationship between people and technology in the context of architecture.

If traditionally architecture has addressed the needs of an individual or a small community, with climate crisis becoming a reality, architecture must turn to global issues. As crucial as technologies are in finding solutions, they also risk creating new problems along the way. In an age of technological progress, where there are so many steps between a problem and the device that solves it, sufficiently advanced technologies might seem unnecessary and confusing to a casual observer. The same is true of the many steps and mechanisms that link climate change to the technology that seeks to fight it. However, if the goal of this technology is unclear, the difficulties and resulting errors can create resistance in the users of architecture.

The curatorial team led by the architect’s office „NRJA” tries to answer the question „How to live together with the machine?” The interaction of people and technology in modern architecture is embodied in an interactive installation „It’s not for you! It’s for the building”. Made of an uncanny web of black pipes, the enormous apparatus first appears to be a foreign organism parasitizing on space that used to belong to humans. The installation invites visitors to change their perspective and discover an amusing neighbour in this seemingly threatening intruder — one that reacts to our presence and even addresses us in an incomprehensible yet comforting language of its own. Lights, that follow the visitors, artificially amplified sound of their footsteps and the familiar materiality of wooden floorboards demonstrates that man is still at the centre of architecture in the 21st century and that meaningful interaction between man and technology is possible.

Together with the consultancy company „Levelup” „NRJA” has released a accompanying book of the same title that elaborates on the idea behind the exhibition by confronting two opposing viewpoints on the role of technology in our everyday lives — satirical portrayals of absurd situations involving systems and equipment in the built environment on the one hand, the reasoned arguments of technology experts seeking to fix the problem on the other. The book is illustrated by Ivars Veinbergs, using the drafting program AutoCad. The publication was designed by Alexey Murashko, who also created the visual identity of the Latvian Pavilion. Contrasting typefaces and counter colours highlight the polarising content of the book, while the many upside-down ribbon bookmarks play upon the absurd nature of the situations discussed in the short stories.

Although less visitors can be expected this year due to the ongoing health crisis and travel restrictions, the Venice biennale offers various digital solutions that provide an online presence across the globe. The opening of the Latvian pavilion featured a short film made by Ēriks Božis and Marta Elīna Martinsone, that offers an insight into the creative process as well as the installation itself. The digital platform «Biennale Pavilions Online» offers an ongoing insight into 22 national pavilions — exhibition tours, online streams and events, including a streamed discussion «Space Me Up: Borderless Living» between Latvia’s, Lithuania’s, Estonia’s, Finland’s, Switzerland’s and Great Britain’s curators.

In 2020, in response to the global health crisis, Latvia’s Venice Biennale pavilion was exhibited in a transformed form in Riga, Latvia. The installations „Connections Interrupted” is a play on the distance brought forth by the pandemic and the technologies attempting to solve it. The lost social links are replaced by digital signals. Forced by necessity, society has adapted and embraced new technologies at an unprecedented pace. When change is rapid, people recognise that the situation is serious and can adapt accordingly. Unfortunately, the changes that are now bringing more and more technology to architecture are gradual, almost imperceptible. Will humanity be able to adapt to the machine when faced with the global climate change? Does the ambivalent nature of technology mark a new paradigm in the history of architecture? Are we really entering an era of posthuman architecture, where user comfort will be subordinate to sustainability requirements?

The curatorial team believes that architecture is and will be humane as long as it is inhabited by humans. Technology will remain an integral part of human life, and man will continue to be a creator of artificial solutions because that’s what we’ve always been. It is crucial for contemporary architecture that humans learn to live together with the machine and, in a common struggle against the ecological crisis, ensure that any solution that is «for the building» is ultimately «for you».

The 17th International Architecture Exhibition runs from 22 May to 21 November 2021, is curated by architect and scholar Hashim Sarkis and explores the topic of «How will we live together?» “We need a new spatial contract. In the context of widening political divides and growing economic inequalities, we call on architects to imagine spaces in which we can generously live together”, Sarkis has commented.


The Pavilion of Latvia is commissioned by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia. More information about the exhibition «It’s not for you! It’s for the building» can be found on its webpage as well as on Facebook and Instagram



















Web: http://latvianpavilion2021.lv

Facebook: @latvianpavilion2021

Instagram: @latvianpavilion2021

Twitter: @latvianpavilion

Email: latvianpavilion2021@nrja.lv


Arsenale Artiglierie, Venezia

Opening hours:
21st May – 21st November, Tuesday to Sunday, 11AM to 7PM


Curators: NRJA (Uldis Lukševics, Elīna Lībiete, Ivars Veinbergs, Ieva Lāce-Lukševica, Zigmārs Jauja, Inga Dubinska, Līga Jumburga)

Installation design team: NRJA

Realization: NRJA, Edgars Ošs, Ansis Bergmanis, Mārtiņš Dāboliņš, Pēteris Riekstiņš, Juris Simanovičs, Artūrs Tols, Viesturs Laiviņš, Artūrs Kalvāns

Book “It’s not for you! It’s for the building”: NRJA and Levelup (Olga Procevska, Igors Gubenko, Jekaterina Firjane)

Idea of the title: Peter Trummer

Graphic design: Alexey Murashko

Illustrations: Ivars Veinbergs

Audio design: Gatis Ziema

Photography: Ēriks Božis, Andrejs Strokins

Video: Ēriks Božis, Marta Elīna Martinsone

Project management: Austra Bērziņa

Project manager’s assistant: Jeļena Smelova

Communications: Linda Bērziņa

Translators and proofreaders: Raxti (Mārtiņš Sīlis, Oskars Jansons), Will Mawhood, Elīna Lībiete, Marco Benda

Subtitles: Pēteris Masļenčenko

Commissioner: Jānis Dripe (Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia)

On behalf of: Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia

Supported by: State Culture Capital Fund, Arctic Paper 



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