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Het Nieuwe Instituut opens " Dissident Gardens"
Serre Kasteel de Haar, Haarzuilens. Glass negative from the collection of Het Nieuwe Instituut, archive Kasteel De Haar.

ROTTERDAM.- With the programme Dissident Gardens, Het Nieuwe Instituut explores the classic contrast between nature and culture and the changing role of design. In this context, the garden stands for the site where man’s desire to control his environment collides with the forces of nature. Dissident Gardens includes an extensive programme of exhibitions in Gallery 1, including Biotopia, Smart Farming, Gardening Mars and Pleasure Parks and in Gallery 2 the exhibition The Human Insect: Antenna Architectures 1887-2017. Dissident Gardens is on view from March 4 to September 23, 2018.

Dissident Gardens presents a range of influential approaches by designers, architects and artists to current developments in our relationship to nature. Some of the issues they raise include the far-reaching rationalisation of the agrarian landscape, Mars as the final utopia, the designer as farmer, and the holiday resort as a microcosm of the changing relationship between the city and the countryside.

Fungi as isolation material, algae as conductors and bacteria that dye textiles. Contemporary designers are increasingly working with living biomaterials, often for unknown applications. In the project Biotopia—a continuation of an earlier exhibition BioDesign (2013/2014)—designers first of all manifest themselves as researchers. They base their practices on a more symbiotic relationship to natural systems. Biotopia looks in detail at new applications of natural processes that aim to change the entire production and distribution chain of design.

Smart Farming
The Netherlands is the world leader in agrarian innovation. Totally controlled environments for food production result in an architecture that leaves no place for humankind. In this "techno-side," run by drones, robots and laptops, there is scarcely any difference between nature and culture. Using a 1:1 scale model, Smart Farming presents the current, but largely unknown image of the agrarian landscape: as much city as agriculture, as much technique as nature. Smart Farming can be seen in the context of earlier projects at Het Nieuwe Instituut: Sicco Mansholt: A Good European (2014) and The Mansholt Letter (2015). It is part of Automated Landscapes, a long term research initiative by Het Nieuwe Instituut launched in 2017 and that informs the upcoming Dutch Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2018.

Gardening Mars
Gardening Mars takes the planet Mars as the last technological promise, where, by the use of "terraforming," the red planet is made suitable for human life. Gardening Mars introduces four different storylines: Mars as an object of science, an original and untouched space. Mars as Noah’s Ark and a refuge for human beings in a life-threatening disaster, or as the domain of techno-utopians and transhumanists. And finally, Mars as the next step in the expansion of Earth’s economy across the galaxy.

Gardening Mars is also an appeal for a more radical, holistic form of imagination of ecological and societal issues, which could possibly be projected on Mars, but are first of all key to the future of the Earth.

Pleasure Parks
The Netherlands has more than 1500 holiday parks, the highest density of vacation parks in the world. Initially such camping sites were aimed at "social tourism," but it was not until around 1960 that these idealist camps made way for holiday resorts with a focus on comfort and luxury. With its commercial and recreational facilities, the holiday park became a "concentrated urban leisure centre" in which nature served merely as a backdrop to suggest the feeling of being in the countryside. The exhibition Pleasure Parks explores the merging of two strong Dutch design traditions: landscape design and social housing. Pleasure Parks demonstrates that not only holiday parks have changed radically since the 1920s, but also, the ideas about the relationship between the city and the countryside.

The Human Insect: Antenna Architectures 1887-2017
With the invention of the radio antenna at the end of the 19th century, radio became an issue to be reckoned with in architecture. An antenna could relativize a skyscraper upgrade even the most modest residence, through the direct relationship with the invisible yet global network of radio signals. Antennas destabilized architecture. Nowadays, through the use of smartphones, sensors and satellites, we ourselves have evolved into hybrid creatures: half biological and half technological. The Human Insect: Antenna Architecture 1887-2017 provides an insight into the far-reaching entanglements of technology and the body and examines the meaning of this shift for architecture. This exhibition and the related research arise from the Benno Premsela Lecture given by Mark Wigley in 2014: The Architecture of Radio.

Het Nieuwe Instituut and research
Dissident Gardens is part of the long-term Landscape & Interior research project. With the Dissident Gardens programme, Het Nieuwe Instituut aims to stress the importance of research for a radically changing design practice, this time linked to the use of formats such as the research exhibition, in order to map and depict these new practices for both the professional fields and a broader audience.

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Het Nieuwe Instituut opens " Dissident Gardens"

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