About project

Project titled „Let’s talk about garbage” created by Hugon Kowalski and Marcin Szczelina for the main exhibition of the 15th International Venice Architecture Biennale

The 15th Venice Architecture Biennale will be dominated by socially committed architecture. Reporting from the front – which is the name of this edition of the event – will constitute a collection of records from the frontline, where architecture clashes with unfair socioeconomic conditions and fights the problems encountered in various parts of the world.

The exhibition proposed by Kowalski and Szczelina will face the global problem of waste overproduction. Our modern consumerist societies neglect the “afterlife” of their mass-produced items, packed-tight in successive layers of plastics. The stake of “Let’s talk about garbage” will be to attempt at presenting new, alternative strategies of coping with the flood of waste pouring down the streets of our cities. The creators of the exhibition will show us how architecture can stimulate the reduction of the amount of waste and how it can take part in the process of recycling.

Designing disposable or short-lived items, usually made of plastics that will decompose in landfills for hundreds or even thousands of years, contributes, in a longer perspective, to creating masses of carelessly generated waste. The creators of the exhibition will present the life cycles of some discarded items – their collection, sorting, processing and reuse. Such processes as recycling, upcycling (i.e. recycling which raises the value of the processed material) or product design in consideration of its future processing point to alternatives to the problem of waste overproduction.

Zygmunt Bauman wrote that “we dispose of refuse in the most radical and effective of all ways: not looking at it, making it feel invisible, hence we don’t have to think about it, making refuse unthinkable”. We discard everything to a black bag, pretending it is not our problem anymore. This idea is reflected in the black wall of the exhibition, which conceals the back, i.e. the further fate of waste – a rich world of apparently unknown data regarding waste and the lives of millions of people living from the recycling of what others throw away. The authors will also present an extensive palette of materials and products, proposing ecological and sustainable solutions for the construction industry. In reference to Kowalski’s diploma project, the authors will present residential solutions for the Indian Dharavi and its residents who live by what they earn from waste collection – solving their problem with the use of architecture is the primary purpose of the exhibition.

Participating in the main exhibition of the Biennale and working with its curator, Alejandro Aravena, this year’s winner of the Pritzker award (the architectural Nobel Prize) is a wonderful distinction. For the first time in history of the event, Poland will be represented at the main exhibition. The team headed by Hugon Kowalski and Marcin Szczelina will also compete for the main award of the festival – the Golden Lion.

The exhibition will be presented in the Arsenal (main Biennale exhibition) in Venice from May 28 to November 29, 2016. In 2017, “Let’s talk about garbage” will be presented in Katowice.


Main sponsor





Project by:
Hugon Kowalski and Marcin Szczelina

Hugon Kowalski (1987) – architect, has been working as an adjunct at the Faculty of Architecture and Urban Design of the University of Fine Arts in Poznań. For his diploma project titled “Let’s talk about garbage”, devoted to the problem of slums in Mumbai, promoted by Robert Konieczny, Kowalski was the first Pole to receive the prestigious Archiprix International Hunter Douglas Award for the best 2009-­2011 architectural diploma in the world. In 2010, on his fourth year at University, Kowalski founded his own architecture office – UGO Architecture, which has been developing to this day. In 2012, Kowalski won the first award in the “Archi­world Academy” competition for young architects and architecture students. The winner of the “International Design Award” (2008 – category: house, 2nd place, 2009 – public building and single­family house). He received honorable distinction in the competition for a concept for the Narutowicza Square in Warsaw and won the 2014 Maciej Nowicki Award.

Marcin Szczelina (1982) – architecture critic and curator, assistant to director Aaron Betsky at the 11th Venice Architecture Biennale. The co­curator of the Biennale Evento in Bordeaux (2009). The author of numerous texts devoted to contemporary architecture, art and projects referring to contemporary architecture. In 2008­2009, Szczelina was an editor at “Zawód: Architekt”. In 2012­2015, he wrote for the “Sukces” magazine”. The co­author of “To touch music”. A correspondent for “Domus” magazine. In “Monitor Magazine”, Szczelina conducts interviews devoted to contemporary architecture. An expert with the European Mies van der Rohe Award. The co­founder of the Architecture Snob and the founder of the Furheart Gallery, an independent space for testing the borders of architecture. He is currently working on an English guide to contemporary architecture, which will be published this year by DOM Publishers.

Special thanks:
Grażyna Kulczyk

Mishka Studio Michał Oziewicz,
Michał Rachlewicz

Maria Dondajewska,
Klaudia Dopierała,
Magda Wypusz,
Marta Adamczak,
Damian Wesołek

Graphic design:
YOS ­Karol Pawełek,
Sasha Savnichuk,
Edgar Bąk (logo)

Project manager:
Aleksandra Pudełko


Aleksandra Pudełko, project manager
Mail: aleksandra.pudelko@architecturesnob.pl
Mobile: + 48 602 749 419

Contact with the authors:
Hugon Kowalski: kontakt@ugo.com.pl ,
Marcin Szczelina: hello@architecturesnob.pl