Spontaneous Interventions: design actions for the common good was first presented as the exhibition of the U.S. Pavilion at the 13th International Venice Architecture Biennale (Fall 2012). It documents the nascent movement of designers acting on their own initiative to solve problematic urban situations, creating new opportunities and amenities for the public. Provisional, improvisational, guerrilla, unsolicited, tactical, temporary, informal, DIY, unplanned, participatory, open source—these are just a few of the words that have been used to describe this growing body of work.

Spontaneous Interventions frames an archive of compelling, actionable strategies, ranging from urban farms to guerilla bike lanes, temporary architecture to poster campaigns, urban navigation apps to crowdsourced city planning. These efforts cut across boundaries, addressing architecture, landscape, infrastructure, and the digital universe, and run the gamut from symbolic to practical, physical to virtual, whimsical to serious. But they share an optimistic willingness to venture outside conventional practice and to deploy fresh tactics to make cities more sustainable, accessible, and inclusive.

The Venice Architecture Biennale is the most prestigious architecture event in the world. Now in its 13th edition, the Venice Architecture Biennale was formally established in 1980 and is held every other year (alternating with the Venice Art Biennale, which was first held in 1895). For the 13th edition, held in 2010, 55 countries participated in the Biennale, which was attended by 170,000 visitors.

The 13th edition took place from August 29 to November 25, 2012, and received 178,000 visitors. British architect David Chipperfield was the curator of the main exhibition of the Biennale, themed Common Ground.

The U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Biennale is presented by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State (ECA), which supports and manages the official United States participation at selected international exhibitions. Following the recommendation of the Federal Advisory Committee on International Exhibitions (FACIE), convened by the National Endowment for the Arts, the U.S. State Department selected “Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good,” proposed by Cathy Lang Ho teamed with the Institute for Urban Design, to be featured in the U.S. Pavilion. The U.S. representation at this global event ensures that the excellence, vitality, diversity and innovation of the architecture in the United States are effectively showcased abroad, and provides an opportunity to engage foreign audiences to increase mutual understanding.

AUG 29-NOV 25, 2012
U.S. PAVILION AT
THE 13TH INTERNATIONAL
ARCHITECTURE EXHIBITION
LA BIENNALE DI VENEZIA

MAY 24 – SEP 1, 2013
CHICAGO CULTURAL CENTER MICHIGAN AVE. GALLERIES
78 E. WASHINGTON ST.
CHICAGO, IL 60602

MAY 24 – SEP 28, 2014
GOVERNORS ISLAND
BUILDING 403
COLONEL’S ROW
NEW YORK CITY HARBOR