Biennale Architettura 2021, Venice, Italy
May 2021 – Nov 2021
Project led by
Prof. Sean Ahlquist
Prof. Evgueni Filipov
Textile design and fabrication
Ahlquist — a computational design and material systems expert and one of the few architects in the world who creates structures out of large-scale CNC knitted textiles — is part of How will we play together?, a new section of the Biennale dedicated to children’s play, which is located in Forte Marghera, Venezia.
Ahlquist has done extensive research in creating playscapes for children, especially for those with autism spectrum disorder like his daughter, Ara, to explore the connection between sensorial experience and social engagement. "OrchidsPlayscape" is inspired by Ara’s unique engagement with the world. Now 11 years old, her particular non-verbal nature triggers a novel creativity that uses many facets of the world around her to communicate. People, objects, and technologies all become part of a multifaceted language. The genesis of the term “orchid” in behavioral science is expressed through Ara’s inextricable linkage to the nuances of her environment. While the dandelion thrives ubiquitously, the orchid outshines them all when immersed in the most fitted of conditions. Ahlquist’s combination of personal experience and professional research is the basis of a search for the distinctive relationships between environment, behavior, and communication that generate social opportunities for diverse and differently abled individuals like Ara. [Ahlquist Invited to the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia]