Architecture is… is this year’s edition of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design’s Department of Architecture end-of-the-year exhibition in Jerusalem, Israel. Curated by Henry Urbach, former curator of architecture and design at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), the exhibition features the year-long design projects of approximately 75 graduating students. The show includes for the first time design work from the department’s branch for ultra-Orthodox women, an innovative program that is now in its fifth year and celebrating its first graduating class.
Architectural projects, with their many drawings and models at multiple scales and levels of abstraction, are rarely accessible to a broader public. The show takes on this difficult challenge. The exhibition design—precise and subdued—nods to the problem with beige paint bands that unify the projects, along with other graphic and text elements used to distinguish the eight units, or design studios.
The stately front courtyard of Bezalel has been transformed by a collective of fourth-year students into a “garden of reverie,” replete with wooden frames holding plants and flowers, hanging laundry, easels, a sandbox, and games of all sorts, making it a true Jerusalem garden (not to mention the ‘Heterotopia’ described by philosopher Michel Foucault) that is also a 1:1 scale installation, another way in which architects, especially younger ones, work.
Inside the school’s foyer, a large wall text piece presents the exhibition title along with student, faculty, and staff reactions to the incomplete phrase; these responses appear in multiple languages and mark out a kind of portrait of the school. Taken together as a whole, Architecture is… provides a compelling frame for viewing Israel’s architectural future, while asking, in a fresh and enjoyable way, the question: “What is an architectural exhibition?”
Main Gallery, Department of Architecture
Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design