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Prestigious architects and artists, among them the Pritzker winner Wang Shu, will star in the main exhibition of the fourth edition of Mugak/

  • The Basque Country International Architecture Biennial Mugak/ will develop its programme in the three Basque capitals under the slogan ‘rebuild, reinhabit, rethink’. 
  • The central exhibition, ‘Inhabiting change’, is a choral reflection of works produced by ten internationally renowned figures and will be inaugurated on October 25 with a conference by the Chinese architect Wang Shu.

The Basque Country International Architecture Biennial Mugak/ presented this morning its fourth edition, which will revolve around the slogan ‘rebuild, reinhabit, rethink’ and will once again place its central exhibition at the Basque Country Architecture Institute, under the title ‘Inhabiting change’. The exhibition will bring together the works of ten renowned figures from the world of architecture and arts in a collective dialogue that will be inaugurated on 25 October. Among them, there will be original pieces and representations of the practices of the creators.

Mugak/ has been gaining relevance edition after edition to become a forum of international reference, open to the trends and concerns of the world of architecture, urban planning and design; this fourth edition is solid in its contents, visually powerful and meticulous in its details”, said this morning the Minister of Territorial Planning, Housing and Transport of the Basque Government, Iñaki Arriola, whose Department is organising the Biennial, during the presentation. The programme is currently being drawn up and already includes more than fifty activities in the three Basque capitals, which will explore the theme of this fourth edition because “it is urgent to rethink the way in which we inhabit the world and how we will survive in it in the future”, said the minister.  

The central exhibition brings together pieces of diverse authorship that revolve around the three concepts of this edition's motto, theming the three exhibition halls of the Basque Country Architecture Institute. “The Biennial has opted for a choral and intergenerational exhibition to bring together internationally renowned authors who can dialogue with emerging architects and artists”, said the Basque architect and curator of Mugak/ 2023, María Arana.

Among the professionals who have joined ‘Inhabiting change’ is the architect Wang Shu, who won the Pritzker Prize in 2012. He is an advocate of caring for tradition in the face of the rapid destruction and unstoppable growth of his country's cities, and his work will be present in the three blocks into which the exhibition is divided. The main one, the Ningbo Historic Museum, the work of Amateur Architecture Studio (which he directs with his partner and wife, Lu Wenyu), will be on display in the first room and represents this firm belief: its facade is created from rubble produced in the process of demolition in China to build new human settlements. According to Wang Shu, “we cannot destroy history”. This work will be present in the exhibition through samples of the facade itself and large-scale photographs.

Conferences in the three Basque capitals

“The exhibition is the basic foundation of the Biennial's thinking. It is intended to be the origin and support for the conversations and reflections that will be shared during its celebration and that will be inspired by the conceptual framework of this fourth edition. It is a sort of index of contents that serve as a substratum for the ideas that will later promote the debates and conferences of the official programme”, explained the curator of Mugak/ 2023.

This fourth edition will be attended by Wang Shu himself, who joins the long list of Pritzker Prize-winning professionals that the Biennial has brought to the Basque Country in its four editions: RCR Arquitectes, Rafael Moneo, Álvaro Siza, Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal.

In addition to Wang Shu, the rest of the participants in the exhibition ‘Inhabiting change’ will also be part of the list of speakers that the Biennial will take to the three capitals of the Basque Country this autumn. This is why the exhibition links the whole Basque Country: “It is a kind of exhibition conversation that begins at the Basque Country Architecture Institute and then moves on to the debates that will be held in the three capitals. Relations will be generated between the main exhibition and the conferences and conversations that will be held at the Artium, in Vitoria-Gasteiz, and at Azkuna Zentroa, in Bilbao”, said Arana.

A new edition to debate with citizens in the streets

Mugak/ 2023 will kick off on 25 October, with the opening of its main exhibition and the lecture by Wang Shu at the Teatro Principal in Donostia. But the Biennial will begin its preliminary programme a few days earlier, from 10 October, with conferences, various activities and pavilions in public spaces with the aim of bringing the debate on architecture closer to the public.

The ‘Lost forest’ pavilion will be the first ephemeral architecture exercise to open on the Sagüés esplanade in San Sebastian. This temporary installation, which will use wood burnt in fires for its construction, will be an invitation to reflect on the destruction of the territory and the recycling of materials, a dialogue with the public that is the result of the collaboration between Mugak/ and TAC! Festival, an event promoted by the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda and the Arquia Foundation.

Both this pavilion and the other two that will be installed throughout the Biennial will be the setting for different activities in this year's programme. In San Sebastian, a second pavilion of the Higher Technical School of Architecture of the University fo the Basque Country will show how wooden structures can be easily assembled and disassembled in record time. In Bilbao, the third pavilion of this edition will address the possibilities of making an already built house ‘grow’ thanks to industrialised processes

The Programme is being prepared