When: 22.11.2011 - 31.01.2012
Where: Warsaw, National Library, al. Niepodległości 213

In order to know what the architecture of the future will be, we have to find out what future society is going to look like. That is why the fundamental premise of the Architecture of the 21st Century cycle of events is to place the architecture of the future in a broader social context.
We are not interested so much in buildings, architects’ approaches or new technological possibilities as in everything that has had an impact on the architecture of societies: the ways citizens are (self)organized, the connections between architecture and economics, the social impact of buildings and speculations as to possible future scenarios.
This year, we have witnessed the birth of spontaneous social movements, such as the Occupy Movement in Europe or the “99 per cent” campaign in many cities in the USA. The current global financial crisis began from a speculative bubble on the real estate market in the United States. It has hit ordinary citizens hard, sparing those who were responsible for it through the use of high-risk economic instruments. There has been global media coverage of the events taking place in tent cities cropping up in capitals across the world. This temporary architecture has become the symbol of civic movements and attempts to redefine the terms on which we might build the structure of twenty-first century societies.
The building of the National Library is, in fact, a ready-made installation where we can detect traces of both the twentieth century and the future. Erected in the last century, the building, which stands proud against the greenery of Park Mokotowskie, was designed not only with its function but also with a mission in mind. The building’s designer, the architect Stanisław Fijałkowski, designed a few internal micro-gardens within its interior, spaces to give relief to the reader hunched over his books, lighting up the interior with natural light. Today, when developers erecting buildings try to “squeeze out” every square millimetre of land, this empty, undeveloped space seems to be a sign of economically unjustified extravagance and irrational luxury. At the same time, it is precisely this “empty” space that reflects the essence of the times in which the exhibition is presented because:
Along with dissatisfaction with the system, a certain void has opened up signifying a space open to thought, a new freedom. Let us not to be too eager to fill this void because the only way this can be done is either through thoughtless utopian thinking or pragmatism. However, this is not the solution. The system has been affected by the crisis. We have to think. The situation is open. (Slavoj Žižek, New York, 26 October 2011).
Emptiness/void are the key words describing today’s situation, a sensing/projecting of the future. This also applies in Warsaw, where the status of many spaces is unclear, where the tenants of hundreds of buildings fear for their future while the heirs of the pre-war owners await their restitution.
What is going to happen to the site of the car manufacturing plant in Żeran that was liquidated this year? What is to be built on the 220 hectares of post-industrial land in Ursus? We will soon find out what the architecture of the twenty-first century will be. In the meantime, we are looking at empty parks, green wastelands, green oases in the increasingly built up Warsaw.
Economists, philosophers and writers admit that we are on the verge of realizing that the hitherto principles governing the way society functions no longer work, although we still don’t know what should replace them. An empty space emerges which has to be filled with something. The world today is abuzz with the search for answers. It is precisely this phenomenon of the twenty-first century that we would like to capture through the exhibition. This is why we have chosen to present the main part of the exhibition at the National Library, being an institution responsible for gathering knowledge, which is invaluable when looking for inspiration, or indeed, a warning.