Imperfect Health: The Medicalization of Architecture, Opening Night
4:30 pm 8:00 pm
Miller Gallery, Carnegie Mellon Campus
We observe–and suffer daily from–the unforeseen consequences of our actions on the environment. We are anxious about ground pollution, food safety, pollen allergies, smog, asthma, cancer, obesity, epidemics, and ultimately, aging. Now that everything is perceived as a possible source of disease, the health, defense and fortification of our own bodies have become obsessive pursuits. We have begun to think of all aspects of our lives in medical terms.
Architecture, urban design, and landscape design are addressing these fears, incorporating medical issues and related concerns in their projects. Their new ideas and solutions are based on the optimistic premise that design has the capacity to deliver individual and collective well-being. Projects propose allergy-free gardens, more trees, cleaner air, soil remediation, and new quarantine spaces to prevent epidemic outbreaks. On the other hand, in addressing health issues, design also introduces new levels of complexity in projects that test industrial methods for food production, stairs that re-educate the obese and infirm, and the segregation of communities by age.
Imperfect Health is not a comprehensive survey of the relationships between health, architecture, cities and the environment. On the contrary, these projects for buildings, interiors, and open spaces are meant to highlight uncertainties and contradictions present in the ideas of health that are emerging in Western countries today, particularly in Europe and North America.
We are exposed to a lot of solutions, but at what cost?
Is the future of architecture in its medicalization?
About the Exhibition
Health is a focus of contemporary political debate in this moment of historically high anxiety. Are architects, urban designers and landscape architects seeking a new moral and political agenda within these concerns?
The Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University is proud to present the U.S. premiere of Imperfect Health: The Medicalization of Architecture. This exhibition has particular resonance in Pittsburgh, a city that has recovered from the collapse of its steel industry through its new health care, education and technology industries, and at Carnegie Mellon, a research institution focused on innovation, interdisciplinary collaboration, and creating and implementing solutions for real problems. Despite decades of revitalization, Pittsburgh still ranks as one of the most polluted cities in the United States, with higher rates of cancer, asthma, and obesity than the national averages.
Imperfect Health features a wide range of works, including photographs, sculpture, video, research and archival materials, design projects, and architectural models and drawings, that together examine the complex relationships between design and health. The exhibition includes works by an international group of architects, artists, designers, and institutions, including Bernd and Hilla Becher, Berkeley Institute of Design and Intel Labs, BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group), Mel Chin, Todd Haynes, Henry Dreyfuss Associates, Steven Holl Architects, Gordon Matta-Clark, Niall McLaughlin, MIT AgeLab, Morphosis, MVRDV, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture), Philippe Rahm, François Roche, SANAA, and Alison and Peter Smithson.
Accompanying the exhibition are a book extending the research (published by CCA with Lars Müller and available as an e-book and in print in the gallery), an online TV channel, and public programs including a lecture series, panel discussions, screenings and tours.
Curated by Giovanna Borasi + Mirko Zardini. Organized by the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal.
Connect with the Miller Gallery
- Sign up for Imperfect Health updates.
- Visit the Facebook event for the exhibition's reception.
- Imperfect Health hashtag: #ImperfectHealth
- Miller Gallery Twitter name: @MillerGallery