Urbonas Studio Awarded the European Social Fund Grant for Residency in Venice

Urbonas in the swamp 2019. Photo by Monika Pozerskyte
ACT at MIT

The joint practice of ACT Professor Gediminas Urbonas and ACT Affiliate Nomeda Urboniene, collectively known as Urbonas Studio, has been recognized by the eminent European Social Fund Grant for a two month residency in Venice. This residency is affiliated with the Iuav University of Venice and the CESCOT VENETO platform of the Veneto region. The Urbonases are co-curators of the Swamp School, the future learning environment conceived for the 16th International Architecture Exhibition in 2018.

The award is part of the effort curated by Angela Vetesse, an art historian and professor at Iuav University, and the CESCOT VENETO platform. This project, “altroVe,” aims to attract “brains” and highly qualified human resources to enable the development of social and cultural innovation projects that may generate positive impacts for the entire community. The “altroVe” develops an integrated system of participatory actions and practices for the urban transformation of the city of Venice and its neighborhoods of Mestre and Marghera. The objective of the residency grant is to create innovative products and services dedicated to the enhancement of the city’s tangible and intangible cultural heritage, developing new ideas that satisfy social needs and at the same time create new relationships and collaborations.

As part of “altroVe,” the Urbonases will be working on Swamps and the New Imagination, the book that continues work started at the Swamp School at Venice Biennale 2018. Edited by the Urbonases, along with a philosopher Kristupas Sabolius (ACT affiliate), the book is a discursive site for cultivating new habits of thought using a swamp as an interface to discuss the climate crisis from diverse disciplinary perspectives. It pulls together scholars on intersectional topics including speculative architecture, posthumanism, ecology, visual studies and imagination, cybernetics, sociology, and the commons to argue for conviviality (living together) and sympoiesis (making together) in imagining the future. With editorial contributions from Mariel Villeré and Jonathan Crisman, both MIT School of Architecture + Planning alumni, the book will feature essays from the leading scholars and artists including Gloriana Davenport, TJ Demos, Caroline A. Jones, Stefan Helmreich, Lars Bang Larsen, Kate Orff, Andrew Pickering, Maria Puig de la Bellacasa, Saskia Sassen, and others. Swamps and the New Imagination will be published by Sternberg Press and distributed by MIT Press. The launch of the book is planned  in collaboration with Iuav and is slated later in 2019 in Venice.

The “altroVe” project is lead by CESCOT VENETO in collaboration with the City of Venice, IUAV University of Venice Visual Arts and Fashion, Malutta Foundation, Academy of Fine Arts of Venice, A plus A, Zuecca Projects, Urban Rise, SUMO Soc. Coop. Sociale, Controvento Coop. Sociale Onlus, ETICity, Confesercenti Metropolitan City of Venice, EBV, Confesercenti Regionale del Veneto, Nonsoloverde Soc. Coop. Social, Ikona Venice, Argo 16, Calle Corte Legrenzi Mestre.