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TMU prof to represent Canada at the Venice Biennale for Architecture

Vincent Hui is part of a group that is exploring how living materials can transform architecture
May 07, 2024
Andrea Shin Ling, Nicholas Hoban, Vincent Hui and Clayton Lee.

The team behind Living Room Collective. From left: Andrea Shin Ling (Photo: Andrei Jipa), Nicholas Hoban (Photo: Nazanin Kazemi), Vincent Hui (Photo: Florencio Tameta), and Clayton Lee (Photo: Sam Frank Wood).

On Tuesday, the Canada Council for the Arts announced its choice to represent Canada at the Venice Biennale for Architecture in 2025 (external link) 

Living Room Collective, composed of architects, scientists, artists and educators, “will work at the intersection of architecture, biology, and digital fabrication to situate architecture as an integral and supportive component of our ecosystem,” says an announcement from the Canada Council for the Arts which selected the team.

TMU will be represented at the Biennale by Vincent Hui, a distinguished professor in TMU’s Department of Architectural Science (DAS). Andrea Shin Ling will be leading the project’s development from Switzerland at the Institute of Technology & Architecture, ETH Zurich. She will be supported by Hui and Nicholas Hoban, the director of applied technologies at the John H Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design (UofT), and Clayton Lee, a Canadian curator, producer, and performance artist who is the director (artistic) of the Fierce Festival in Birmingham, UK. Each team member offers specific expertise that will bring the winning idea to life at the Canada Pavilion in Venice.

The concept, which is still under wraps for now, is based on Ling’s research on living materials at ETH. She incorporates living bacteria into fabricated structures, giving the structures certain biological capabilities, including the ability to sequester carbon.

“We want to change the conversation around what the role of the architect is,” said Ling. “I hope this highlights the need for cross-disciplinary voices in shaping the future of sustainable building practices.”  

Ling says that the field of living materials presents possibilities where biological processes can be harnessed to functionalize materials as well as regenerate them.  

“We are at a point where we can start to show these things in architectural applications,” she said. “To be able to showcase this in a venue like Venice is pretty amazing.”

New directions in architecture

Hui will be supporting Ling and Living Room Collective using his expertise on applied and experiential learning.

“It’s a great honour to be part of a team that can speak to new directions in architecture,” said Hui. “This team has such a diversity of knowledge and that really speaks to the interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary future that we're faced with, inevitably around the corner.”

Hui says that being part of the Biennale team is not only a great honour, but a chance for him as an award-winning educator to help put a spotlight on what he feels is one of the best programs in Canada.  

Lisa Landrum, chair of DAS, agrees that this is an incredible opportunity. 

“With its progressive vision for decarbonization, Living Room Collective will not only socialize sustainable strategies but enact transformative solutions for climate justice,” she said. “DAS programs are already nationally recognized for centreing environmental stewardship in the built environment, professor Hui’s contributions to Living Room Collective will grow that reputation globally and sprout new research and experiential learning opportunities.”

Living Room Collective will represent Canada at the 19th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, from May 10 to November 23, 2025.

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