Our Land Is the Sea is an exhibition that maps and presents the contradictions between land and sea, from the point of view of architecture, urban planning and landscape construction. Such a sensitive and socially important topic has become the focus of attention for a group of architects who have challenged the conventional limits of the discipline. Taking as its starting point the physical contradictions and popular culture of the Portuguese coast, the exhibition examines a series of experiments devoted to thinking about, drawing and configuring coastlines and their relationship with the great immensity of the ocean. The sea is a place: instead of considering the ocean as a boundary or a space of confrontation, we can and must reimagine it as a partner in the construction of the land.
It seems obvious that we currently face an environmental emergency and that the sea is one of the spaces where the fundamental forces of inevitable change are being played out. The sea determines how we live on land. Faced with this evidence, a group of architects has developed an original perspective on the sea, triangulating from its natural dynamics the necessary coordinates to facilitate an understanding of—among others aspects critical to everyday life—coastal erosion, the relationship between cities and the sea, port trade flows, the sea as a global communications route, and the forms of construction associated with the exploitation of marine resources.
The exhibition invites us to reverse our habitual gaze, to think about the land from the perspective of the sea. What can we learn from this perspective, which, instead of contemplating the horizon, examines the complexity of the relationships between natural forces, human activities and the functioning of ecosystems? This exhibition highlights the need to better understand the spaces in which we live and to help adjust the ways in which we transform them. Reversing our gaze requires us to think about the things we build in relation to one of the planet’s most critical spaces: the sea.
Our Land Is the Sea is curated by the architects Miguel Figueira, the architect of interventions in the urban space of Montemor-o-Velho and of the High Performance Centre there, and André Tavares, a programmer at Garagem Sul / Centro Cultural de Belém and a researcher at Lab2PT in the School of Architecture at the University of Minho. The exhibition is the result of collective efforts that included the participation of architect Pedro Maurício Borges, of the designers of “Change is good” (José Albergaria & Rik Bas Backer), architects Marta Labastida, Ivo Poças Martins and Pedro Bandeira, and of surfer Eurico Gonçalves and producer Carla Cardoso. In addition to several partner institutions, as Samsung and Valchromat, the exhibition was co-produced with the research group Fishing Architecture at Lab2PT, part of the School of Architecture at the University of Minho.