Exhibition

A Lot With Little

October 26-January 27, 2024

MAS Context presents the exhibition A Lot With Little by London-based architect and curator Noemí Blager with films by Tapio Snellman. The exhibition was on display at the MAS Context Reading Room.

A Lot With Little has been supported by Arper.

Contributors

In a world where unpredictable events and natural disasters increasingly affect our living conditions, and where the building industry is responsible for nearly 40% of global carbon emissions, the responsibility of architects has never been as critical as it is today. Indifference to the overwhelming consequences of climate change is not an option. With limited time, money and resources at our disposal, we urgently need new sustainable ways to design and produce good architecture. An architecture led by societal needs, and made with the resources at hand, that responds to local culture, local economy and the environment. An architecture conceived ethically and responsibly, that cares for our future.

A Lot With Little showcases the work of international architects from both the Global North and the Global South, engaged in sustainable solutions for housing, education, transformation of existing buildings and disaster-relief. It features projects with a social dimension that have had a positive impact on the community. The contributing architects provide multiple interpretations of a common mindset, overcoming a lack of resources with creative ingenuity.

Through a multichannel film installation, we showcase selected projects in their existing settings, alongside insightful interviews with the architects themselves. This immersive experience allows visitors to grasp the design challenges and experience the feeling of inhabiting these spaces, instead of merely responding to their visual appeal.

Using films as the medium, we adopt a sustainable approach to presenting architecture without the need for physical object transportation or generating waste, making it fully accessible worldwide. Visitors will embark on an extraordinary journey, discovering the profound impact of architecture on our lives.

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Transformation of 530 Dwellings, Bordeaux, France, 2017–2018. Architects Lacaton & Vassal with Fréderic Druot and Christophe Hutin. Courtesy of Noemí Blager.

FEATURED ARCHITECTS

Architects across developed and underdeveloped regions confront distinct challenges. The former wrestle with commercial pressures and strict regulations, while the latter contend with resource scarcity and inadequate infrastructure. And architects everywhere confront the escalating impact of extreme weather conditions. The featured architects embrace lateral thinking and participatory methods, leading to the creation of sustainable, affordable architecture that contributes to societal betterment. Their shared values prioritize context over concept, fostering flexible, people-centered architecture that harmonizes with its surroundings.

These architects embody this ethos, seamlessly blending social, collective and poetic elements within their designs. Their work emphasizes the interconnectedness of users, buildings, cities and nature, remaining adaptable to change while empowering occupants' creative freedom. Notably, sustainability isn't a mere goal or regulatory response—it's a natural consequence of their design philosophy.

  • Mariam Issoufou Kamara, Atelier Masōmī, Niger
  • Anne Lacaton & Jean Philippe Vassal, Lacaton & Vassal, France
  • Mauricio Rocha, Taller de Arquitectura Mauricio Rocha, Mexico
  • Marina Tabassum, MTA, Bangladesh
  • Jan de Vylder & Inge Vinck, A JDVIV, Belgium
  • Francis Kéré, Kéré Architecture, Burkina Faso/Germany
  • Solano Benitez, Jopoi de Arquitectura, Paraguay
  • Marta Maccaglia, Semillas, Peru
  • Shigeru Ban, Voluntary Architect’s Network, Japan
  • Marta Peris & Jose Toral, Peris + Toral Architects, Spain
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Estudio Iturbide, Mexico City, 2016. Architects: Taller de Arquitectura Mauricio Rocha + Gabriela Carrillo. Courtesy of Noemí Blager.

FEATURED PROJECTS

The showcased projects are grouped by building typology to draw designparallels across divergent geographical, cultural, social and economic contexts.

Housing

Housing is a critical global issue, exacerbated by migration and population growth, leading to increased demand for proximity to work centers and stable infrastructure. However, this comes at a cost, both financially and environmentally, especially in regions where resources are scarce, and adverse climates further compound the challenges architects face. Nevertheless, the housing projects selected exemplify the possibility of offering sensitive and innovative solutions, catering to both social and private housing needs while addressing local economic, social, cultural and climatic conditions. These projects also consider the broader global impact, demonstrating how creative and sustainable approaches can address the pressing housing crisis.

  • Niamey 2000, Niger, 2016. Architects: Mariam Issoufou Kamara, Atelier Masōmī
  • Social Housing units in Cornellà, Barcelona, Spain, 2021. Architects: Peris + Toral
  • Estudio Iturbide, Mexico City, 2016. Architects: Taller de Arquitectura Mauricio Rocha + Gabriela Carrillo
  • Rot Ellen Berg, Oudenaarde, Belgium, 2011. Architects: Architecten Jan de Vylder Inge Vinck (AJDVIV)
  • Abu House, Asunción, Paraguay, 2006. Architects: Solano Benitez, Gabinete de Arquitectura, today Jopoi de Arquitectura
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Niamey 2000, Niger, 2016. Architects: Mariam Issoufou Kamara, Atelier Masōmī. Courtesy of Noemí Blager.

Education

Access to education is a fundamental requirement for the progress and development of any society. However, in underdeveloped countries, certain regions suffer from a lack of infrastructure, making it extremely challenging to provide access to education. On the other hand, developed countries face the demand to accommodate ever-evolving education programs. Architecture can play a crucial role in finding solutions to these challenges. The diverse array of projects featured in this section serves as compelling evidence of the power of community participation in achieving positive outcomes, irrespective of the context and circumstances. These projects showcase how architectural interventions can pave the way for improved education accessibility and contribute to societal advancement and development.

  • Startup Lions Campus, Turkana County, Kenya, 2021. Architects: Kéré architecture
  • Museo Anahuacalli, Mexico City, 2021. Architects: Taller de Arquitectura Mauricio Rocha
  • Rural Schools in the Peruvian Amazon, Pangoa, Peru 2017–2019. Architects: Marta Maccaglia, Semillas
  • Nantes School of Architecture, Nantes, France, 2009. Architects: Lacaton & Vassal
  • Faculty of Architecture, Design and Art (FADA) in progress, Asunción, Paraguay, Architects: Solano Benitez, Gabinete de Arquitectura, today Jopoi de Arquitectura
  • Teletlón, Children’s Rehabilitation Centre, 2010, Asunción, Paraguay, Architects: Solano Benitez, Gabinete de Arquitectura, today Jopoi de Arquitectura
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Startup Lions Campus, Turkana County, Kenya, 2021. Architects: Kéré architecture. Courtesy of Noemí Blager.

Transformation

Through architectural ingenuity, existing buildings and structures that have outlived their original purpose can be transformed and given new life. This approach challenges the conventional inclination to view these edifices solely as historic monuments or opt for complete demolition. Instead, it embraces a more thoughtful and sustainable way of repurposing them to meet contemporary needs and aspirations.

  • Transformation of 530 Dwellings, Bordeaux, France, 2017–2018. Architects: Lacaton & Vassal with Fréderic Druot and Christophe Hutin
  • Fabrica de San Pedro Cultural Centre, Uruapan, Mexico, 2022. Architects: Taller de Arquitectura Mauricio Rocha
  • Palais des Expos, Charleroi, Belgium, in progress. Architects: Architecten Jan de Vylder Inge Vinck (AJDVIV)
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Palais des Expos, Charleroi, Belgium, in progress. Architects: Architecten Jan de Vylder Inge Vinck (AJDVIV). Courtesy of Nomeí Blager.

Disaster Relief

Amidst the global landscape, natural disasters such as climate change-induced sea-level rise, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, and the ongoing global refugee crisis, give rise to precarious living conditions that demand urgent architectural interventions. In this section, we feature projects by two notable organizations: the Foundation for Architecture Community Equity (FACE) and the Voluntary Architects’ Network (VAN). FACE, spearheaded by architect Marina Tabassum, dedicates itself to addressing the needs of Bangladesh’s landless, ultra-low income groups, and climate refugees. VAN, an NGO founded by architect Shigeru Ban, concentrates on designing shelters that require minimal technical supervision, utilizing affordable and sustainable materials that can be rapidly sourced. These initiatives showcase how architectural ingenuity can play a pivotal role in providing essential support and solutions during times of crisis.

  • Khudi Bari, various locations in Bangladesh, ongoing. Architects: Marina Tabassum Architects
  • Paper Concert Hall, L’Aquila, Italy, 2010. Architects: Shigeru Ban Architects with Voluntary Architects’ Network
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Paper Concert Hall, L’Aquila, Italy, 2010. Architects: Shigeru Ban Architects with Voluntary Architects’ Network. Courtesy of Noemí Blager.

RELATED EVENTS

Thursday, October 26, 2023, 6–8PM
Opening reception with Noemí Blager

Wednesday, November 15, 2023, 5PM
Process

Lecture by Mauricio Rocha

Thursday, January 18, 2024, 12PM
Marta Maccaglia: A Lot With Little
Lecture by Marta Maccaglia

EXHIBITION CREDITS

Exhibition organized by MAS Context.

Exhibition design by MAS Studio.

Installation by Ken Byron, Iker Gil, Julie Michiels, and David Schalliol.

A Lot With Little is a partner program of the 2023 Chicago Architecture Biennial.

PRESS

Arper Supports A Lot With Little,” Arper, September 19, 2023.

Vasia Rigou, “Design Top 5: January 2024,” Newcity Design, January 3, 2024.

Iñigo Picabea, “Arquitecturas que hacen mucho con poco,” Radio Nacional de España (RNE), December 24, 2023.

Almas Sadique, “MAS Context welcomes all to learn how to create and build 'A Lot With Little',” Stir, January 20, 2014.

Anna Moldenhauer, “Building for the future,” Stylepark, October 12, 2023.

A Lot With Little,” World-Architects, October 26, 2023.

CREDITS

Curator and Producer: Noemí Blager
Film and Edit:
Tapio Snellman
Camera Assistant:
Diego Pitarch
Additional footage:
Asif Salman (Bangladesh and Marina Tabassum interview) and Benoit Martin (Shigeru Ban interview)
Composer:
Daniel Nolan
Sound Design:
Daniel Nolan and Oskar Qvick
Additional Session Musicians:
Evi Vine, vocals (Khudi Bari), Dave Elliott, percussion (Startup Lions), and Keir Moore, guitar (Iturbide Studio)
Graphic Design:
Micha Weidmann Studio
Support:
Arper

ABOUT ARPER

Arper is a global design brand that envisions products for the way we live. Founded in 1989 by the Feltrin family, Arper is a family-owned and independent company driven by a deep sensitivity to those who use its products, and offers through empathetic and enduring solutions and products, a perspective of the contemporary way of life. Sustainability plays a central role for Arper, and is implemented in the organisation’s culture, as well as in its processes and products. Arper approaches design through the project of living, a dialogue that embraces change, whether it concerns the world as a whole or people as they evolve. Underlying everything the company does is a sensitivity towards the communities, relationships, environments, and individuals for whom they design.

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A Lot With Little, MAS Context Reading Room, Chicago, 2023. © Dan Kelleghan Photography. Courtesy of MAS Context and Arper.

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A Lot With Little, MAS Context Reading Room, Chicago, 2023. © Dan Kelleghan Photography. Courtesy of MAS Context and Arper.

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A Lot With Little, MAS Context Reading Room, Chicago, 2023. © Dan Kelleghan Photography. Courtesy of MAS Context and Arper.

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A Lot With Little, MAS Context Reading Room, Chicago, 2023. © Dan Kelleghan Photography. Courtesy of MAS Context and Arper.

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A Lot With Little, MAS Context Reading Room, Chicago, 2023. © Dan Kelleghan Photography. Courtesy of MAS Context and Arper.

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A Lot With Little, MAS Context Reading Room, Chicago, 2023. © Dan Kelleghan Photography. Courtesy of MAS Context and Arper.

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