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Round table How to build in times of environmental crisis? With Lina Ghotmeh, Sara Ouhaddou, Bento, Valentine Umansky & Anissa Touati

The CIVA and the Thalie Foundation are joining forces for a weekend of encounters dedicated to earthen architecture in the context of the Warché exhibition presented at the Foundation in fall 2022.

Warché, meaning “worksite” in Arabic, offers an immersive experience of earthen architecture through the gesture of Lebanese architect Lina Ghotmeh – a carpet of 13,000 reused bricks covers the floor of the Foundation, creating an agora – and in dialogue with the sculptural and video works by Sara Ouhaddou and Emilija Škarnulytė.


Panel discussion
How to build in times of environmental crisis?

With Lina Ghotmeh, architect, Sara Ouhaddou, visual artist, architects collective Bento.
Co-moderated by Anissa Touati, curator of Warché, and Valentine Umansky, curator at Tate Modern, London.

Following the round table, collector-entrepreneur Miguel Carvalho will introduce his Melides Art project based in Portugal which will give a second life to the bricks of Lina Ghotmeh’s installation.


The speakers of this panel discussion deploy a sustainable, historical and regenerative perspective on the city of tomorrow. Their construction practices either on site or in the workshop question the sustainability of production methods and their impact on our way of life. They favour the use of materials that return to the earth, such as bricks, raw earth, mycelium or workshop residues. They question the trace and therefore the circularity of materials, their regenerative principles and recycling in relation to construction.

Based on this observation, the city of the future is now being thought through the reappropriation of artisanal know-how, experimenting materials and using local channels. These attempts allow for a post-human and futuristic reflection on the city of tomorrow; where an ecological future is inscribed in the continuity of ancestral traditions and the past to imagine new architectural forms by making a cultural heritage perceived in a sensitive way – And poses a fundamental question: how to coexist on a territory? Should we live or cohabit?


The speakers

■ Winner of the prestigious Schelling Foundation Architecture Prize in 2020, Lina Ghotmeh (born in 1980 in Lebannon) has overseen visionary projects at the Estonian National Museum and the El Khoury Foundation’sStone Garden (Beirut). She currently teaches at the Yale School of Architecture and at the University of Toronto; she is co-president of the RST ARCHES network dedicated to architecture in extreme environments.

Sara Ouhaddou (born in 1986 in France) works between France and Morocco. Her artistic practice questions the use of design as a tool for economic, social, and cultural development, especially within local communities of Moroccan craftsmen. Winner of the 2014 Prize for the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) and the Wanted Design Prize in 2015, she has exhibited at the Marrakech Biennale (2016), the Palais de Tokyo (2020), and at Z33 (2021), and will be part of the residency program at Villa Albertine (United States) in 2023.

Bento is an association of architects that puts the experimentation of matter at the centre of its reflections. Living matter questions the sustainability of our current production methods and their impact on our way of life. Starting from this observation and/or this obligation, the architects of Bento make a point of exalting it, of going beyond it, to build a bridge between architecture, art and design, in particular by experiencing the resources of mycelium. Bento was the winner of Europan 16 on the CIVA site in Brussels (2022), and has just been appointed to curate the Belgian Pavilion at the 18th Venice Architecture Biennale (2023) with philosopher Vinciane Despret.

Valentine Umansky
has worked for various institutions dedicated to visual arts and is currently a Curator, International Art at Tate Modern. Between 2015 and 2020, she held positions in the U.S. at the International Center of Photography, the Museum of Modern Art and the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati. In France, she has collaborated with the Rencontres d’Arles festival, and published Duane Michals, Storyteller (Filigranes). She also co-curated the 2018 LagosPhoto Festival, and Layers. Nigerian Modern Art with Iheanyi Onwuegbucha.

Anissa Touati is a curator with an archaeological background. She is currently the head curator of the Paris Internationale art fair, a guest curator at the Fondation Thalie and the artistic director of the Pavilion for a Mediterranean Nation at the Biennial of Lagos, Nigeria (2022-2023). Formerly the artistic director of the Contemporary Istanbul art fair and associate director of the Chalet Society in Paris, she has organized exhibits around the world, notably in Turkey, Lebanon, Mexico, Argentina, the United States, Italy, and France. She helped launch the BeMA museum in Lebanon in 2018. Since 2021, she has been a member of the MAH (Musées d’art et d’histoire) committee in Geneva, the acquisition committee of the FRAC in Corsica, and on the jury for the École nationale supérieure d’architecture Paris-Malaquais and the Pujade-Lauraine Prize.


In partnership with the CIVA