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In lectures, conversations and performances different contributors will propose renewed relationships with our landscapes and cities under the effects of overproduction, efficiency and growth. By doing so, they also position design as a critical practice that questions conventional ways of inhabiting and experiencing the world founded on human control and exploitation of other bodies.

With Academy for Urban Astronauts, Paola Antonelli, Merve Bedir, Marten Kuijpers, Suzanne Mulder and Paola Nicolin. Moderated by Mariana Pestana.

Location: Agora Space, La Triennale di Milano


  • 13.00 Urban Astronaut Course #1

How can we transcend our daily reality by learning to see and think as an astronaut? How can earthlings learn to live as space travellers – with a view of the stars and an insight into the vulnerability of our own planet?

  • 13.15 I See That I See What You Don’t See

The Netherlands is one of the most illuminated countries on the globe. Its productive landscape - dependent on data, technology and energy - illustrates a 24-hour economy that emphasises efficiency and growth. At the same time, this Cartesian territory reflects the changing relationship with the natural rhythms connected to, and affected by, the cycles of light and darkness. I See That I See What You Don’t See highlights the urgent consequences of this state of being through several design research projects.

A presentation by curators Angela Rui and Francien van Westrenen in conversation with moderator Mariana Pestana on the background of the Dutch pavilion.

  • 14.00 Triennale as an instrument for creating awareness and change

In the alarm that Paola Antonelli sounds with Broken Nature, one might also hear echoes of the 1968 Triennale by Giancarlo De Carlo, called The Large Number. Where De Carlo gave activistic criticism on endless growth central stage, Antonelli presents hopeful restorations by designers worldwide.

Paola Antonelli, curator of Broken Nature, talks about her ambitions for the 2019 Triennale di Milano and what, in her view, could be the contribution of such an exhibition.

Suzanne Mulder, heritage curator at Het Nieuwe Instituut, presents The Enigma of Vast Multiplicity, the Dutch architect Aldo van Eyck's contribution to the 1968 Triennale, and its meaning in the light of today. Paola Nicolin, who researched this XIV Triennale's ambitions and forms of display, will shed light on its context and share her thoughts on how the Triennale changed the presentation of architecture since then.

  • 15.00 Urban Astronaut Course #2

How can you think about the future while having your feet on solid ground, anchored in the here and now, and simultaneously have your head in the stars?

  • 15.35 Automated Landscapes

Automation and the 24-hour, 365-day production cycle it enables, disrupts labour markets and the configuration, design and occupation of entire territories. The collaborative research project Automated Landscapes documents and reflects upon the architectures of automated labour in the Netherlands and China.   

Marten Kuijpers, researcher at Het Nieuwe Instituut, presents his latest research on a hyper-scale greenhouse cluster in one of the darkest areas of The Netherlands. Merve Bedir, adjunct assistant professor at the Department of Architecture, University of Hong Kong, collaborates with Het Nieuwe Instituut in research on human and robot interaction in factories in the Pearl River Delta, the human-powered ‘factory of the world’ that is gradually becoming one of the main arenas for the transition towards automated manufacturing systems.

  • 16.15 Urban Astronaut Course #3 

How can we, living in the modern urban world, bring nature and the cosmos back into view? How can we emerge from our urban womb and realise that we are also passengers on spaceship Earth?

  • 16:30 The Value of Darkness

Currently, light pollution is depriving us of a view of the galaxy, while also damaging ecological, animal, and human welfare. The interdisciplinary research project Nightlab starts from the question 'what is the value of darkness, and will it eventually lead to a manual for a Darkened City?'

Conversation between futurologists Edwin Gardner and Christiaan Frunaux (co-founders of Academy for Urban Astronauts and initiators of Nightlab) and Mariana Pestana about how we can use a life-centred design to create urban environments that benefit welfare, ecology and all other life forms.

  • 17.00 Drinks at the Triennale Caffè
13:00 – 17:00

La Triennale di Milano
Agora Space



Register via Eventbrite

Guus Beumer, artistic and general director, Het Nieuwe Instituut
Angela Rui, Marina Otero Verzier, Francien van Westrenen
Rudy Guedj
Olivier Goethals