The Anthropocene exhibition at ZODIAK Warsaw Pavilion of Architecture, 23 September–27 November 2022

Curators: Kacper Kępiński, Adrian Krężlik

Exhibition architecture: CENTRALA

Contributors: Pracownia Architektury Krajobrazu (Marta Tomasiak, Marta Przygoda), CENTRALA, Miastopracownia (Barbara Nawrocka, Dominika Wilczyńska), Kasper Jakubowski, Jan Szeliga i Krzysztof Janas, NAS-DRA (Paulina Grabowska, Oliwia Rybczyńska) , Jan Domicz, Simone Ruess, BIEL studio (Zofia Strumiłło-Sukiennik, Grzegorz Piotrowicz)

Visual identity: Katarzyna Nestorowicz

Organiser: National Institute of Architecture and Urban Planning (NIAiU)

Exhibition architecture concept was selected through a closed competition held in November-December 2021.

In 2023 the exhibition will be presented in Museum of Architecture in Wroclaw.

Design concept of the temporary exhibition devoted to architecture.

The process

The structure of the exhibition’s narrative is based on the doughnut economics diagram. Its symbol is a torus, which is cut into ring-shaped slices and thus determines the form of the exhibition design. Viewers explore individual segments of the rings, and the characteristic curved edges allow them to form in their imagination the image of continuities and dependencies of the represented processes. The exhibition postulates organising imagination for the sake of the future.

The considerable scale of the rings corresponds to the scale of the pavilion’s architecture – this is what causes their deformations: sections and curves. Such design also frames the viewers themselves as participants of the processes represented in the exhibition. The components of the ring in the square can be configured in various ways depending on the needs. It mostly consists of fragments that may serve as seats. Other parts will serve to showcase selected exhibits or will be reserved for plants and animals as guests of the show.

The idea of creating display units on a large, architectural scale relies on the possibility of acquiring second-hand materials. The Museum of Modern Art, whose seat is currently under construction in the vicinity, declares the will to donate them.

The display units will be built of various kinds of composite wood boards, which currently serve as materials that protect pillars, as the planking of temporary installation platforms, formwork elements, or packaging for finishing materials. The key feature of this idea is the proximity of materials. However, this requires arranging a temporary workshop in the square in front of the pavilion, where the acquired materials will be processed. Secured with an openwork fence, this outdoor workshop will in itself demonstrate the specificity of designing with the use of materials originating from demolitions. It is a group skill, which requires a team with diverse competences: fitters, designers, curators, who will evaluate materials, conditions and the economy of effort together. Processing correlates not only with the consumption of materials, but also with work, simultaneously physical and conceptual, always in a team. A greater workload is often needed in order to use fewer materials. Our proposed exhibition design is a process that demonstrates architectural practice in line with the spirit of circular design. [Translation from Polish: Łukasz Mojsak]

The exhibition

Architecture – durable, useful, beautiful and… incredibly harmful. The construction industry and life-cycle costs generated by buildings are responsible for over ⅓ of world CO2 emissions – one of the main causes of climate change.


Cities and buildings nowadays operate in a way that disturbs nature’s cycles, pollutes and devour vast areas of land. On the other hand, humans are unable to function outside of the built environment. Architecture provides proper and safe living conditions, creates spaces of everyday existence for numerous people all over the world.

The anthropocene is an era of humans, an era of anthropogenic changes that result in global climate catastrophe. The name of this exhibition signifies ambivalence – it is both narcissistic (what we present is testament to the human power) and critical towards the current state of the world. We do not, however, intend to instill hopelessness in our visitors. We can still stop (or rather limit) the destruction of our collective home. The exhibition is structured around the doughnut economics diagram – a compass for the 21st century. The interior of the doughnut is delimited by the social foundation – minimal appropriate living conditions, the external limit marks the ecological ceiling – the planetary boundaries in landscape, biodiversity, water, climate, land transformation and pollution, whose transgression causes irreversible damage to the natural world. Safe and just space for humanity is encapsulated between these two boundaries. It is there that we believe architecture would best fulfill its purpose.

The mosaic of examples presented in this exhibition delineates the context of current challenges in face of the climate crisis, allowing us to better understand the trials that lie ahead. We see architecture not only as an effect of global and local changes in the relationship between humans and nature, but also as a tool that shapes it. We present contemporary and historical designs, completed projects and technologies that impact the habitats of all species and beings. Installations in each ecological category offer us a look into architecture’s future and the roles it can play. Their authors looked for methods of architectural design and functionality that go beyond being not harmful to the planet and towards a regenerative environmental impact. These examples prove that there is another way for architecture.

Kacper Kępiński and Adrian Krężlik, curators of the exhibition


Exhibition catalogue

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue which is set to be released in November 2022. The book elaborates on the context of doughnut economics in reference to the realities of Polish cities, giving it a practical dimension. Experts in six domains outline the theoretical background of the six speculative installations contemplating the future of regenerative architecture, designed for the exhibition by the participating artists. The last chapter of the book brings into focus the social and political sentiments, changes to the profession, language and policy that highlight architecture as one of the emanations of global processes that influence humans, the climate and the future of the planet.

The English edition of the catalogue will premiere in 2023 during the exhibition’s run at the Architecture Museum in Wrocław.

The publication is edited by Kacper Kępiński and Adrian Krężlik.

Authors: Daniel A. Barber, Ewa Bińczyk, Simone De Iacobis, Joanna Erbel, Paulina Grabowska, Paweł Hałat, Kasper Jakubowski, Krzysztof Janas, Aleksandra Kardaś, Kacper Kępiński, Monika Konrad, Adrian Krężlik, Małgorzata Kuciewicz, Dorota Leśniak-Rychlak, Barbara Nawrocka, Jolanta Pawlak, Cristian Pizzigalli, Philippe Rahm, Monika Rosińska, Oliwia Rybczyńska, Tomasz Sławiński, Jan Szeliga, Marta Tomasiak, Dominika Wilczyńska, Elke Krasny.