Finland Pavilion Declares Death of The Flushing Toilet for La Biennale Di Venezia 2023
The Finnish Pavilion, designed by Alvar Aalto. Image © Nico Saieh
At the 2023 Biennale Architettura, Finland’s Pavilion will present its exhibition Huussi, Imagining the Future History of Sanitation, which deals with the architecture of water and nutrient circulation, questioning the water toilet and Its implications for the future. “Huussi” is the Finnish word for an outhouse, a small compost toilet commonly used by Finns in rural settings and holiday homes. The exhibition, curated by Arja Renell and The Dry Collective, a group of Finnish architects, presents this typology as a starting point to finding alternative solutions to managing wastewater, inspiring professionals to start envisioning new sanitation solutions. At the core of the presentation, the exhibition questions the consequences of waste in the context of the current climate crisis the world is going through.
According to the curatorial team of The Finnish Pavilion, in developed economies, 30% of domestic water use is used for flushing toilets, and around 80% of wastewater is released into the environment without treatment. Moreover, this process leads to large-scale environmental damage and nitrogen pollution. This effluent contributes to global greenhouse gas emissions and CO2 emissions, in numbers comparable to the aviation industry. These facts alone are enough reason for the designers of the future to begin reconsidering how architecture can play a role in the future of our ecologies.
The Finnish Huussi, a traditional outhouse. Image Courtesy of JRJfin | Shutterstock
The cultural starting point of Huussi emphasizes the vernacular solutions that were once commonly used before the consumerist era we live in today. In fact, the world “cannot afford to keep wasting scarce drinking water, polluting rivers, and oceans with biohazardous waste, the entire system needs to change”.
Exploring Territorial Relations: The Swiss Pavilion at the 2023 Venice Biennale is Curated by Karin Sander and Philip Ursprung
The exhibition was curated by Arja Renell, the architect who assembled The Dry Collective, a group of architects, artists, and designers that includes: Eero Renell, Emmi Keskisarja, Janne Teräsvirta, Barbara Motta, and graphic designer Antero Jokinen. It will be on display in the Giardini in Venice, in the Pavilion of Finland, designed by Alvar Aalto. It will be open to the public from 20 May to 26 November 2023.
the 16th International Architecture Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia. Image Courtesy of Tetiana Tuchyk | Shutterstock
The flushing toilet is a perfect product of the consumerist era – convenient, hygienic within the home, and low maintenance. You press the flush and liters of abundant, low-cost water carries away all responsibility you had for your waste, to be dealt with elsewhere by government-subsidized infrastructure. It’s another example of a technology that is wasteful, globally unequal, and ecocidal that we’re all hooked on in developed economies. — Katarina Siltavuori, Director of Archinfo, and the Commissioner of the Pavilion of Finland.
The Dry Collective (from left): Barbara Motta, Eero Renell, Arja Renell, Janne Teräsvirta, Antero Jokinen and Emmi Keskisarja. photo: Pertti Nisonen. Image Courtesy of The Finland Pavilion 2023
The larger theme of the Biennale, “The Laboratory of the Future”, curated by Lesley Lokko, encourages architects to present ambitious and creative ideas to imagine an optimistic shared future. Similarly to Finland’s Pavilion, the Dutch Pavilion recently announced its display “Building Ecosystems”, uncovering our complex infrastructures, and using the element of water as a metaphor for rethinking these ecological crises. Moreover, the Swiss Pavilion will explore architectural territorial relationships in the Biennale Itself, and the connections between the Pavilion and its neighbor, the Venezuelan Pavilion. Also concerned with future ecology at large, the Uruguay Pavilion will examine future forestry laws and how they will affect the built environment.