“Staged Nature – Zoo of Zoos” offers an opportunity to reflect on the role of the zoos and zoological gardens on our contemporary cities, with a special focus on the Lisbon Zoo, the oldest in the Iberian Peninsula, built in 1884 – at Parque de S. Sebastião where today are Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation headquarters – and later transferred to Quinta das Laranjeiras (1905), with the project of the Portuguese architect Raul Lino built between 1935 and 1972.
Raul Lino (1879-1974) was one of the most prominent Portuguese architects of the first half of the 20th century. His professional archive is now part of the Gulbenkian Art Library’s holdings. It comprises around 9.000 drawings and 220 photographs, as well as textual documentation related to 639 architectural projects designed between 1902 and 1974. One of these projects is the famous “The Lisbon Zoo” (1936-1972). Staged Nature is a virtual exhibition project that explores this specific and rather emblematic architectural project aiming at facilitating and promoting its interpretation and discussion in the broader context of the Portuguese and Western European Architectural theory and practice of the mid-20th century.
This project primarily envisages to create a modern display of a project of architecture prepared to be explored by and more comprehensible to students and to general public. Starting from the traditional media of the architectural design we intend to create new ways by which innovative technology can enable and promote diverse visual experiences or disrupt -old traditions; The second dimension of Staged Nature builds on the fact that architecture engages with a culture’s deepest social values by expressing them in material and aesthetic forms. The main idea is to frame this project with the relevant questions of the 21st century about the display of wild animals and the questioning of the reasons why we still have zoos. To confront architecture’s complex relationship to its social and historical contexts and its audiences, achievements, and aspirations. To rethink about architecture’s power of use and representation of nature and how it can produce collective meaning and memory.
Through a continuous chronological parallelism between past-present-future – which will become the fil rouge that joins all the elements of the virtual exhibition – the idea is to understand how this specific typology evolved into the current century and to answer the main questions: Is there a reason to still have zoos in 2020? Which are the new components and necessities of staging the nature in an urban environment?
The chronological tool lays a fundamental role in creating a narrative which connects the past (the architect’s original project), the present (current tendencies and perspective of various key figures involved) and future (which are the possibilities of regeneration for tomorrow). During the entire expo, we will fluctuate continuously between these three spheres of time in order to offer different views on the same architectural space.
The project “Staged Nature – Zoos of Zoos”, a virtual exhibition by the Future Architecture Fellows, curatorial team Enrico Porfido and Claudia Sani – país(vi)agem with Arian Lehner and Theresa Margraf – Mies.TV, aims to fulfill three main objectives through visual displaying:
- Past / Valorizing the architecture of Raul Lino with a selection of his drawings of the Lisbon zoo from the archive of Gulbenkian Art Library.
- Present / Understanding the status quo and diverse views of people related to the zoo with a series of targeted interviews, generating debate and thoughts.
- Future / Based on the interviews’ results, to draw future scenarios.
Staged Nature activities in Lisbon will be connected to the BINA - Belgrade International Architecture Week activities in Belgrade. The two Future Architecture platform members will articulate their activities having the selected creatives as their interaction point. The two emerging creatives engaged in the Staged Nature will present their Lisbon projects in two "Interactive BINA lectures" as part of the Urban Talks 2 event in Belgrade. The Staged Nature lectures in Belgrade will take place on 4th September 2020 at 19.00 CET in Cultural Centre Belgrade.
For more information regarding the exhibition, we invite you to take a look at Staged Nature – Zoo of Zoos.