November 02, 2012 – November 03, 2012

Common Ground: Between urban and art practice

As part of the ‘Meetings on Architecture’ at the 2012 Venice Biennale for Architecture, Theatrum Mundi was invited to curate a programme of events that would bring our new urban forum to bear on the discussions, debates, ideas and exhibits from ​Common Ground.

In a time of ambiguous public and private spaces and large-scale transformations in Venice, we ask What could a Venice ‘commons’ look like? We bring together leading figures, activists and artists from Venice who are changing the face of the city through public interventions together with international architects and experts to consider the pressures and tensions of Venice, and propose solutions. The goal is a public brainstorming session with the panel and the audience that puts provocation and creativity together with people interested in creating considered spaces for a political commons in Venice.

Panelists: Venetian activists and representatives of associations (Spiazzi, El Felze, Forte Marghera, Teatro Marinoni, Arsenale, Faro, 40xVenezia, IoDecido) with Liza Fior (Principal, muf architecture/art), Adam Kaasa (London Manager, Theatrum Mundi e Research Officer, LSE Cities), Elke Krasny (Bottom-Up Urbanism), Michelle Provoost (Principal, Crimson Architectural Historians), Andrew Todd (Principal, Studio Andrew Todd)

Chair: Jane da Mosto (weareherevenice)

Venue: Spiazzi , Castello 3865, 30122 Venice


Places for politics in cities around the world rarely transpire in the spaces designed for them. Public protest, social difference, and material inequality operate beyond the logic of the architectural programme. In light of this, what does it mean to design for politics? As witnesses to historic and contemporary transformations in urban spaces around the world, what kind of interventions, tools or methods help us to rethink the way the political stands at the centre of design practice?

Panelists: Liza Fior (Principal, muf architecture/art), Daniel Schwartz (Resident archivist and Filmmaker, Urban Think Tank), Michael Contento (Lead Designer and Researcher, Urban Think Tank), Gry Worre Hallberg, (Partner, House of Futures), Michelle Provoost (Principal, Crimson Architectural Historians)

Chair: Adam Kaasa (London Manager, Theatrum Mundi and Research Officer, LSE Cities)

Venue: Teatro alle Tese, Arsenale


Cultural life is usually a catalyst for social gathering and shared witness in a formal or semi-formal environment. This is why we talk of arts centres: they draw energy in and concentrate it, becoming in the process also centres for the control of production and diffusion, and expressions of the values of a city and its society. With ever more pressure placed on the social and physical value of the ‘cultural centre’, what can we say of increasingly standardized design? What can be learned from street-life in cities around the world that could be translated to the cultural centre? What are the future forms of spaces for visual or performing art?

Panelists: Ricky Burdett (Director, LSE Cities), Stephen Witherford (Principal, Witherford Watson Mann), Siobhan Davies (Siobhan Davies Dance), Andrew Todd (Principal, Studio Andrew Todd), David Chipperfield (Principal, David Chipperfield Architects; Director of the 13th International Architecture Exhibition. Common Ground of the Venice Biennale)

Chair: Randall Bourscheidt (President Emeritus, Alliance for the Arts, New York)

Venue: Teatro alle Tese, Arsenale