According to the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency, climate change and poaching are putting approximately 70 animal species in the country at risk of extinction. In a bid to highlight Egypt’s biodiversity crisis and environmental threats, international design collective Cosmos Architecture submitted a climate change-focused design proposal to the Egyptian Ministry of Culture’s design competition for the Egyptian pavilion at the 2020 Venice Biennale. The project was selected as a runner-up in late December 2019.
Cosmos Architecture’s Egyptian pavilion proposal comprises a small entry area in the front, an open-plan main exhibition space, a screening area and storage space. The minimalist pavilion explores two main topics: the negative aspects of the Anthropocene, the proposed geological epoch defined by human influence, such as climate change and deforestation; and case studies of current technologies and solutions that aim to “balance ecological diversity in Egypt … and create a new symbiotic urban environment.”
The architects have dubbed the case study projects and proposed environmentally friendly solutions “watermarks” and propose projecting some of these example projects inside steel mesh installations that hang from the ceiling to educate pavilion visitors. The case studies cover a range of topics, from conservation of natural habitats to the sensitive adaptive reuse of post-industrial sites.
“The case studies that were examined to represent the good watermarks in Egypt were done so with the intention of researching how different places are reacting and responding to the effects of Anthropocenic climate-related phenomena (i.e. loss of habitat, scarcity of farmable land from overgrazing, species extinction and industrial scars),” explained the project team, which comprises Mohamed Hassan El-Gendy, Sameh Zayed, Pietro Paolo Speziale, Juan Martinez, David Sastre and Nader Moro. “What the selected case studies will tell us is that designing for climate change comes in many different forms.”
Images via Cosmos Architecture