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The Future is a Journey to The Past - curated by Mario Cucinella Architects at the World Architecture Festival in Singapore

Written by:
Laura Iloniemi
Mario Cucinella Architects

Exhibition at the World Architecture Festival 2023:  The Future is a Journey to The Past

An exhibition curated and designed by MCA - Mario Cucinella Architects at this year’s World Architecture Festival (WAF) in Singapore at Marina Bay Sands, 29 November – 1 December, 2023

Exhibition sponsored by Gessi

Where does our ability to survive come from? Plants and animals have the same instinct. Nature has created a system, an ecosystem, with marvellous shapes and colours and incredible biodiversity. We have, in part, lost all of this, generating an irreversible change in our planet. The question is whether we can continue to live this way, or whether we should just take what’s good and throw the rest away, so that we can enter a new era. ’

– Mario Cucinella

"The Future is a Journey to the Past" explores the past and present of sustainable thinking.  The exhibition is curated and designed by Mario Cucinella Architects who focus their narrative around a timeline tracing the evolution of environmental awareness and activism from prehistory to today.  This overview provides the ideal context for the kind of ecological practices that are now necessary to help bridge the divide between the natural world and human activity – including, of course, the way we build. In this way, architectural history, in all its global richness, becomes a relevant source of inspiration to educate us about our sustainable heritage in vernacular building, in particular, while providing us with tools to become future guardians of the global environment.

For example, new solutions through planning and innovation often require expensive and complex stratagems, however, a journey into the past reveals how, in eras when sustainable thinking was a necessity, humans created ingenious practical solutions that we still have much to learn from. While nature has offered us the sustainable environments of the termite nest and beehive, of forests and the very structure of trees and plants, human ingenuity once shaped the stepwells of India, the ice houses of the Iranian desert and the city of Hyderabad in Pakistan that catches the wind to naturally ventilate its buildings.

These and other examples are featured in the exhibition at WAF and many of them are also discussed in Mario Cucinella’s book that gave its name to the exhibition and is available at the WAF bookstore.

The exhibition has been made possible by the generous support of Gessi, Italy’s leading design manufacturer of luxury bath and kitchen systems with a showroom in Singapore - Casa Gessi Singapore – located in an architecturally interesting 19thcentury Victorian building. Details here

Mario Cucinella will be speaking at WAF on Wednesday November 29th on the Main Stage 1:10PM – 2PM followed by a book signing on the Oro Stand for The Future is a Journey to the Past – 10 Stories about Architecture (Quodlibet, 2022). 

The exhibition - "The Future is a Journey to the Past" – was previously shown at the Architectural Association in London in the autumn of 2022.

Mario Cucinella Architects (MCA) is an architectural firm established in 1992 with offices in Bologna and Milan and an international team of one hundred professionals including architects, engineers, graphic designers, model makers and researchers. MCA has extensive experience in architectural design that combines environmental and energy efficiency strategies and relies on an R&D department that carries out research on sustainability with a holistic approach. Recently completed projects include the Etruscan Galleries at Fondazione Luigi Rovati in Milan shortlisted for the WAF completed building of the year ’23 under culture and Santa Maria Goretti Church in the Calabrian hill town of Mormanno shortlisted for the completed WAF religious building of the year ’23. 

Gessi  For over 30 years, Gessi has been designing and realising concepts that enhance the use and benefits of water with the commitment to realise people's aspirations of style, personalisation and physical and mental wellbeing in the most private of living spaces. By giving life to a new sector, that of Private Wellness, Gessi has transformed places that were previously utilitarian into environments capable of exciting and regenerating those who live in them daily. Created within a zero-impact green park, the company's creations bring a message of beauty, authenticity, respect and love for nature and for oneself into the homes of those who choose them. The serenity and passion with which they are made give a positive vibration to anyone who uses them.

By Naser Nader Ibrahim

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