Architects and urban planners have long aspired to design total environments, civilizations, even the planet. However, in the current climate of political and economic uncertainty, occurring against the backdrop of unprecedented environmental impacts wrought by rapid technological development, design professionals have begun to acknowledge the vulnerability of their work to global transformations and the challenges of an automated future. In response, by shifting their focus to the quotidian realm they have started to pose fundamental questions about the core remit of design in an over-designed world—be it banal objects, daily routines, rote maintenance protocols, or even the use of basic resources. This line of inquiry reframes what appears to be the most trivial dimension of reality—the everyday—as an intrinsic mediator in the ongoing production of architecture and the city. Within the last decade, the potential of the everyday has influenced both practical and theoretical domains of architecture and urbanism by triggering a new ethic and aesthetic of humbleness.
Rather than evidence of inaction or a lack of will, this approach is claimed by architects to make design relevant for everyone as a shared concern. The discrete power of the everyday lies in its ability to translate the way we use basic materials, occupy space, and inhabit and maintain architecture, into common practices, which are more conciliatory than divisive. The daily routines of human beings—regardless of where they come from, who they are, and where and how they live—can be boiled down to primary needs met by architecture and embedded in space: a clean home, a warm meal, a bathroom with running water, a well-lit street. These everyday necessities speak not only of the body and the house, but extend outward to the city and its infrastructure, the nation and the management of its resources, the Earth and its ongoing health. At all these scales, the fragility of political and institutional support is evident worldwide on a daily basis: forests and glaciers are disappearing while social infrastructure, collective housing, museums, bridges, and pavement crumble. The everyday therefore emerges in architectural discourse and practice as a commitment to act responsibly and more inclusively.
Everyday, the curatorial proposal for the XII International Architecture Biennale of São Paulo, addresses the everyday as an opportune framework for investigating how architecture might advance as a specialized practice of environment making in the 21st century. The São Paulo Biennale constitutes, from such a vantage point, an ideal venue as the everyday there is an agent able to both impact and empower architecture, for better or worse.
Everyday is structured according to three themes: Everyday Stories, Everyday Resources, and Everyday Maintenance. Each showcases pertinent architectural and urban projects, research, speculative works and installations, as well as other spatial interventions that relate to the contemporary dynamics of the everyday realm.