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May 21, 2021  |  permalink

Open Collectives at the Venice Biennale Architettura 2021

At long last, I am thrilled to present Open Collectives, an immersive installation and Website premiering tomorrow at the 17th Venice Biennale Architettura. Open Collectives features four digital and architectural platforms leveraging solidarity to strengthen economic sovereignty, housing affordability, communal self-determination, and mutual aid.

The installation showcases urban projects designed for collectives across different sites and programs, while introducing a crowdsourcing site to engage Biennale Architettura 2021 visitors in sharing their own ideas, experience, and knowledge with a global audience — extending the project’s reach beyond Venice and past 2021. Each component queries relationships between the individual and collective, figure and ground, form and signifier, inviting viewers to shift attention to the spaces we design for mutualism.

Visitors to the Open Collectives site are invited to peruse an archive of collectives and share their thoughts on future trajectories. These crowdsourced speculations paint a picture of opinions and attitudes of Labor, Care, Markets, and Living in a more mutualist future. In doing so, visitors form a collective of their own — one that will help shape future incarnations of the Biennale.

The installation’s physical structure embodies the open-yet-spatially-defined characteristics of an open collective. Videos and printed materials offer fresh perspectives on timely issues — the post-pandemic future of work, reputational economy, elder boom, and the climate refugee crisis, to name a few. Featured architecture projects include:

• Quipu is a micro-currency platform and physical marketplace empowering residents of a low-income community in Colombia. is a construction technology company striving to make home building more efficient and affordable.

Carehaus is an intergenerational cohousing community developed with the National Domestic Workers Alliance, in which caregivers live with and care for older and disabled adults.

Communit offers neighborhood-scale co-living in a neglected neighborhood of Haifa, Israel, known for its history of worker housing and diverse population.

Open Collectives is led by Rafi Segal, director of the Future Urban Collectives Lab, and Sarah Williams, director of the Civic Data Design Lab, both of which are initiatives within MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning. Collaborators include artist Marisa Morán Jahn, director of Studio REV-, a public art, creative media, and social justice non-profit organization, and Greg Lindsay, futurist and director of applied research at NewCities. A full list of credits follows:

Film Director: Marisa Morán Jahn

Open Collectives Installation Structure Design by Rafi Segal, Alina Nazmeeva

Collective Voices Platform: Sarah Williams, Ashley Louie, Kwesi Afrifa

Collective Archive Platform: Sarah Williams, Dylan Halpern, Prabhakar Kafle, Ashley Louie, Alina Nazmeeva, Angela Wang, Adam Janicki, Kwesi Afrifa.

Research Group: Meng-fu Kuo, Sheng-Hung Lee, Livia Foldes, Fiel Guhit, Vaidehi Supatkar, Dylan Halpern, Laura Cadena, Lesley Onstott

Web Design:  Alina Nazmeeva, Ashley Louie, Sarah Williams
Web Development:  Ashley Louie

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Greg Lindsay is a generalist, urbanist, futurist, and speaker. He is a 2022-2023 urban tech fellow at Cornell Tech’s Jacobs Institute, where he leads The Metaverse Metropolis — a new initiative exploring the implications of augmented reality at urban scale. He is also the chief communications officer at Climate Alpha, an AI-driven location-analysis platform steering investment toward climate adaptation and more resilient regions; a senior fellow of MIT’s Future Urban Collectives Lab, and a non-resident senior fellow of the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Strategy Initiative.

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