Construction workers are one of the most critical yet underrepresented groups of people in the architecture industry. Often times, the safety of labor conditions are pushed aside in favor of budget constraints and strict deadlines. The Fair Building, an exhibition hosted by the Polish Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale, will address these issues and ask: “why don’t buildings come with ‘fair trade’ marks?”
Responding to the theme of “Reporting from the Front”, the curatorial team, Martyna Janicka, Dominika Janicka, and Michal Gdak, based their pavilion design around the idea that “construction sites represent the frontline in architecture.”
The pavilion will contain a two-part installation. The first part is a mockup scaffolding, which represents a construction site and displays videos of construction workers describing their workplace conditions. The second part of the exhibition is a display of infographics that “explore the industry in numbers,” situated in what is designed to look like a showroom apartment. The pavilion will focus on the ethical issues involved in construction through the views of laborers in the industry.
Instead of showing a finished product or design resolution, the exhibition aims to spark a debate about this often overlooked sector of the field, with the goal of attracting the attention of architects, engineers, consumers, and developers in the industry.
“By presenting the stories of persons directly involved in the building process, we ask whether ‘fair trade’ is achievable in the field,” says Curator Dominika Janicka in a press release. “If so, what would it be? Is ‘fair building’ possible? We don’t focus on looking for culprits responsible for the abuses occurring at the various stages of the construction process. Rather, we create a space to reflect on how to make this process not only effective but also fair.”