Portsmouth academic named as Curator at the world’s most prestigious architecture exhibition

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Alessandro-Melis-1-webThe Italian Government has appointed Dr Alessandro Melis as the Curator of the Italian Pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia – in Venice in 2020.

The Minister for Cultural Heritage and Activities (MIBAC), Alberto Bonisoli, made the announcement last week.

The project was chosen by the Minister as part of the preliminary investigation carried out by the Italian General Directorate for Contemporary Art and Architecture and Suburbs (DG-AAP).

The role is one of the most prestigious in the architectural world. As director and curator of the pavilion, Dr Melis will be responsible for the exhibition design and construction, the members and roles within the curatorial team, organising several lectures, seminars and conferences, the selection of the architects and works on display, and the writing and editing of the catalogues and other planned publications. Dr Melis’ ‘Resilient Communities’ project for The Italian Pavilion addresses issues of great urgency for architecture in Italy, such as climate change and community resilience. It will explore current trends of growth and development of Italian urban areas and suggests opportunities for these areas.

Dr Melis is Director of the Cluster for Sustainable Cities at the University of Portsmouth. His research topics concern innovation in the field of environmental sustainability, resilience and regeneration. He has been the curator and keynote speaker at numerous conferences, such as the MoMA in New York and the China Academy of Art. He currently coordinates international research projects on resilience in architecture.

Dr Melis said: “The Venice Biennale is universally recognised as the most important global event in the world of architecture. Being there is like receiving an Oscar for an actor or a film director. It is a recognition that is worth a whole career. Probably, in the case of the Italian Pavilion this is even more true, since Italy is the host country and its pavilion is by far the largest one (about 2,000 square meters)
The thing that excites me the most is that this is a unique opportunity to generate an impact. Too often, research, especially in my field, remains closed within the academic world and does not necessarily lead to the improvement of people’s quality of life.
Now I have the opportunity to ignite the decision makers’ interest, at the highest possible level, towards global emergencies. The opportunity of making a decisive contribution to a cultural change is exciting for me. I hope to live up to this responsibility.”

The University of Portsmouth will play an important role in the event, which will include seven different exhibitions in Venice and in six other countries (UK, Germany, New Zealand, USA, Albania), nine seminars/workshops, conferences and five publications.

Researchers from across the University, including the School of Architecture in the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries, are members of the interdisciplinary curatorial team, with different roles, including organising an exhibition that will take place in Portsmouth.

Dr Melis said: “I must thank Pam Cole and Trevor Keeble from the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries who encouraged and supported me in carrying out all the research and experiments on which the proposal is based.
I would also like to thank all my partners of Heliopolis 21, the architecture practice I founded in 1996 together with Gian Luigi Melis and Nico Panizzi. My most important research outputs are based on practice projects, such as the Stella Maris hospital, the Peccioli Culture park and the Riva del Garda complex, are the experiments in which I developed the theme of resilient communities.”

The International Architecture Exhibition is the architecture section of the Venice Biennale, the world’s largest global arts festival. The Architecture Exhibition will run between 23th May and 29th November 2020.

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