fbpx Biennale Architettura 2021 | Sean Ahlquist - Lab for Sociomaterial Architectures at the University of Michigan
La Biennale di Venezia

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Sean Ahlquist - Lab for Sociomaterial Architectures at the University of Michigan

Social Equilibria

  • TUE - SUN
    22/05 > 31/07
    11 AM - 7 PM

    01/08 > 21/11
    10 AM - 6 PM
  • Forte Marghera
  • Admission with ticket

Sean Ahlquist (American, b.1972) of the Lab for Sociomaterial Architectures at the University of Michigan (USA, est.2012), in collaboration with Evgueni Filipov (Bulgarian/American, b.1988), and Maria Redoutey (American, b.1996), John Hilla (American, b.1989), Yi-Chin Lee (Taiwanese, b.1991), Tracey Weisman (American, b.1992), Ruxin Xie (Chinese, b.1995), and Yingying Zeng (Chinese, b.1985)



Public spaces are commonly lined with cultural and material cues that strongly imply a social etiquette. Shared knowledge of an environment’s societal implications arise through common paths of education, social activity, and civic interaction. Yet, by its very nature an underrepresented community, defined by combinations of exceptional physical, behavioral, neurological, and cultural make-up, will have grown up through alternative means. The physical and social cues of our built environment often cannot withstand interpretations born of contrasting experiences. As a result, distinctions between the normative and the diverse are exacerbated and the environment’s exclusionary effects magnified. To play together means creating architecture with a capacity to reveal the unknown bounds of social, physical, and cognitive diversity. The Social Equilibria installation seeks to discover equity amidst the agency to activate and characterize space. One orchestrates one’s fitted-ness amidst the social function of play. Textiles become media that entice discovery for the qualities of tactility. Sensorial abilities—to perceive, motivate and act upon a malleable architecture—become inherently social as they resonate from the textile landscape, moment by moment. Architecture becomes a live canvas for communication, rather than the consequence of a doctrine of preconceived expectations.


The University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Quantum Materials, LLC provided material support through the donation of specialized thermoplastic monofilament yarns


The Social Equilibria installation was developed by a multidisciplinary team of faculty, students, and researchers in architecture and civil engineering and with input from kinesiology and behavioral science
Lead Investigators: Sean Ahlquist, Evgueni Filipov
Researchers: John Hilla, Tracey Weisman, Yingying Zeng
Students: Yi-Chin Lee, Maria Redoutey, and Ruxin Xie
With Special Thanks to: Mick Kennedy, Larken Marra, John Shaw

Forte Marghera
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Biennale Architettura
Biennale Architettura