City projects

Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism

At the 2017 Seoul Biennale, ACTIVATE presented four city projects within the Exhibition Commoning Cities”. These projects were all developed in collaboration with recognized institutions, with the aim of bringing important issues faced by these urban locations into context of this exhibition.

The exhibition “Commoning Cities” addressed questions concerning the current state and near future of major urban centers around the world. Projects from over 50 cities explored urban strategies with regard to the effects of rapid global urbanization, scarcity of public resources, and privatization of commons.

The Biennales international public was given the opportunity to explore how urban centers are tackling their common problems through governance, policy, and other initiatives in their search for ways to achieve a sustainable and just model of urban living. Through the projects, viewers were encouraged to explore the common values that cities around the world promote, and how urban communities are also endeavoring to maintain their unique histories, cultures and social and geographical contexts.
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Through its projects at the Seoul Biennale, ACTIVATE addressed the question of how the urban zones of the Eastern Mediterranean, Middle East & North Africa will face the pressures of diminishing natural resources, and of growing environmental challenges. Moreover, how will rapidly expanding urbanism affect the daily activities, living conditions, and the future health of peoples of this region? How will people safely live and thrive in their cities of tomorrow?


Curator of projects: Melina Nicolaides

EM/MENA Regional Urban Centers
Connecting Cities: Commonalities and Challenges

In collaboration with:
Future Earth MENA Regional Center

The EM/MENA region possesses not only one of the fastest growing populations in the world, but has also been identified as the first region which will eventually remain waterless due largely to man-made climate change. Today, this area is confronted with many interconnected challenges, which are expected to increase in severity over time and have particularly strong manifestations in urban settings...

“From Antiquity to Tomorrow:
The People's Water Proje

In collaboration with:
EYDAP Athens Water Company

The water of Athens, that has been protected and equitably distributed since the first ‘waterkeepers’ of Greece in the 6th century BC, is now in the custody of EYDAP.  This project presents a historical overview of the water supply and management of this ancient city that has faced water shortage since its founding days. Through the framework of a digital map of historical water sites...   VIEW PROJECT

Climate Change Hot Spot:
Future’s Extremes

In collaboration with:
The Cyprus Institute

Nicosia, capital of the Republic of Cyprus and only major inland city of this Eastern Mediterranean island, has been continuously inhabited for over 4500 years. Estimated to become a climate change ‘hotspot’ in the foreseeable future, the people of this city already face the effects of the region’s changing weather patterns and climate trends. Preparing for projected conditions has become crucial... 

“After Past and Present:
Determining the Future

In collaboration with:
The Bibliotheca Alexandrina

Alexandria, legendary capital built by Alexander the Great alongside the Mediterranean Sea in 331BC, currently faces a combination of urban and environmental challenges. As Egypt's second-largest urban center of six million people, this city is experiencing the consequences of increasing extreme weather patterns, seawater-flooded streets that aggravate the city’s already frail urban infrastructure...   VIEW PROJECT

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·  To read the curatorial texts published in the catalogue below see individual city projects  ·  

Catalogue  Imminent Commons: Commoning Cities , Hyungmin Pai, Helen Hejung Choi (eds.) Published within the scope of the 'Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism 2017'   by ACTAR Publishers ISBN: English 978-1-945150-66-1  |  GIF: urbanNext

Catalogue Imminent Commons: Commoning Cities, Hyungmin Pai, Helen Hejung Choi (eds.)
Published within the scope of the 'Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism 2017'
by ACTAR Publishers
ISBN: English 978-1-945150-66-1  |  GIF: urbanNext

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DDP Exhibition Hall & Gallery spaces click to enlarge


Project images above:

· Nicosia inside and outside the Venetian walls. The city was contained within these walls until the first opening was made through one of its main gates in 1879. Following rapid urbanization and social change after Cypriot independence in 1960, the city spread into a continuously expanding built-up zone.
Source: Yiannis Yiannelos, Archive of Militos Publications, 2017

· View of the ‘corniche’ road of Alexandria showing the proximity of the sea waves to the city, and its vulnerability to the coastal implications of climate change.
Source: Alex Med, Bibliotheca Alexandrina.


· A map of the EM/MENA region (ca. 1522 ed. of Ptolemy's ‘Geographia’). A series of historical maps were presented alongside Future Earth's scientific data in the DDP gallery space.
Source: Images provided courtesy of the Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation Collection of 16-18C rare maps of the region.

· The construction of the Marathon Dam, 1927 in which 900 people were involved. It is the only dam in the world entirely paneled externally with white Pentelikon marble, the marble that was used for the building of the Athens Parthenon.
Source: Historical Archive EYDAP.