Iwan Baan, Natal Gymnasium, by Herzog & de Meuron, Natal, Brazil, 2014. Chromogenic print. Photo credit: Iwan Baan.

Building Optimism: Public Space in South America

The Heinz Architectural Center

Discover design for urban life in South America that builds upon radical optimism—a belief that planning can shape and improve lives.

Spanning projects in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela, Building Optimism: Public Space in South America investigates ways that emerging architects and designers instigate change through design in public space. Using photography, video, drawings, and models, the exhibition immerses visitors in inventive ways that public spaces become social spaces—sites that respond to the unique circumstances and pressures of their communities.

As cities around the world develop and evolve, planners and designers pay particular renewed attention to the fabric of neighborhoods—how people live and interact. The projects in Building Optimism pay as much attention to creating spaces for participation as they do architectural objects and structures. These architects are opportunistic, spotting possibilities within existing sites and tweaking them, often mixing old and new. Eight of the practices in the exhibition have been selected by Alejandro Aravena for this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale. What can the rest of the world learn from South America’s optimistic approach to public space?

Using photography, video, drawings, and models, the exhibition immerses visitors in inventive ways that public spaces become social spaces—sites that respond to the unique circumstances and pressures of their communities. The projects in Building Optimism are documented through photography by Iwan Baan and by Leonardo Finotti and through films made by Cristobal Palma and by Tapio Snellman. OnArchitecture, filmmakers based in Santiago, Chile, have been commissioned to make nine short films for the exhibition.


Exhibition Images

Installation view, “Building Optimism: Public Space in South America” at Carnegie Museum of Art, Photo: Bryan Conley

Installation view, “Building Optimism: Public Space in South America” at Carnegie Museum of Art, Photo: Bryan Conley

Installation view, “Building Optimism: Public Space in South America” at Carnegie Museum of Art, Photo: Bryan Conley

Installation view, “Building Optimism: Public Space in South America” at Carnegie Museum of Art, Photo: Bryan Conley

Installation view, “Building Optimism: Public Space in South America” at Carnegie Museum of Art, Photo: Bryan Conley

Installation view, “Building Optimism: Public Space in South America” at Carnegie Museum of Art, Photo: Bryan Conley