Housing Northwest Arkansas Designs Displayed at International Architecture Exhibition

The Housing Northwest Arkansas Initiative display in the European Cultural Centre at the Palazzo Mora in Venice, Italy.
Photo by Peter MacKeith

The Housing Northwest Arkansas Initiative display in the European Cultural Centre at the Palazzo Mora in Venice, Italy.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Design work from the Housing Northwest Arkansas Initiative is on display in the European Cultural Centre at the Palazzo Mora for the 2018 Biennale Architettura in Venice, Italy.

The six-month Venice Biennale, which happens every two years, takes place in various venues in Venice. The 16th International Architecture Exhibition, titled "Freespace" and curated by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, opened to the public May 26 and continues through Nov. 25.

This collection of work includes the 25 Housing Northwest Arkansas Design Competition entries as well as student work created during a spring advanced design studio, both hosted by the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas. All of the work focused on attainable, mixed-use and mixed-income housing possibilities for Bentonville.

The competition and studio were part of Housing Northwest Arkansas, a three-tiered initiative led by the Fay Jones School and funded through a grant from the Walton Family Foundation. The other component was a regional symposium for the public held in February.

The design competition winners are Digsau of Philadelphia; Kevin Daly Architects of Los Angeles; 5468796 Architecture of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; and Merge Architects Inc. of Boston. The competition was judged by a jury chaired by Anne Fougeron, FAIA, principal of Anne Fougeron Architecture in San Francisco.

The advanced design studio for architecture and interior design students was led by two visiting instructors, Fougeron and Kent Macdonald, RA, lecturer at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California. They collaborated with two Fay Jones School faculty members, Carl Matthews, interior design department head and professor, and Alison Turner, AIA, clinical assistant professor and director of community education.

"This exhibition of collected work aims to demonstrate that housing design at any scale, for any income level, in any location and for any community must address concerns for social inclusivity and access, and concerns for individual dignity and value," said Dean Peter MacKeith of the Fay Jones School.

This is the second time in recent years that the University of Arkansas participated in the Venice Biennale. In 2016, "Building:Community" highlighted the award-winning design work of two of the Fay Jones School's faculty, Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, and Stephen Luoni, director of the U of A Community Design Center, specifically their design work addressing the contemporary circumstances of place and value in Northwest Arkansas.

"This exhibition at the European Cultural Centre is a further demonstration of the Fay Jones School's fundamental approach to design education and professional responsibility and the underlying all-too-human questions of identity, engagement and meaning," MacKeith said. "If our 2016 exhibition focused on significant cultural buildings and resilient community designs in this cause, the 2018 exhibition now highlights the equally critical issues and typologies of housing design, relevant simultaneously to the specifics of our rapidly growing region and to the larger concerns of communities, cities and societies nationwide — indeed, worldwide." 

Stephenie Foster is grant coordinator for the Housing Northwest Arkansas Initiative. The exhibition team includes Jonathan Boelkins, clinical assistant professor in the school, Justin M. Tucker, exhibition coordinator, and Kyle Beard and Caleb Bertels, both architecture students who served as exhibition assistants.

The Venice Biennale has been one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the world for more than 120 years, and it has an attendance today of more than 615,000 visitors. The first International Architecture Exhibition took place in 1980, but the Venice Biennale dates back to 1895, when the first International Art Exhibition was organized. New festivals were added over the years, focused on music, cinema, theater and dance. 

Contacts

Michelle Parks, director of communications
Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design
479-575-4704, mparks17@uark.edu

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