It is a house, a neighbourhood. A FREESPACE.

As part of the architecture Biennale 2018 in Venice, the German architect Anna Heringer has created the exhibition „This is not a shirt – This is a playground“ at Arsenale, which is to draw attention to the plight of female textile workers in Bangladesh. Artfully processed, „worn“ fabrics (recycled saris blankets) hang on bamboo poles in the 42 sqm-room and offer visitors a soft play of colors and an appealing fashion collection. The wooden structure is covered with a golden surface on the outside and newspapers on the inside.

The majority of Bangladeshis live in rural areas. Rudrapur, (which stands for many villages in Bangladesh), shows how people are able to build their habitat with their own resources: using their hands, local mud and bamboo. People produce food and many daily goods themselves. The neighbourhoods have developed over generations and social networks are strong. Women feel comfortable to be outside, children enjoy their village as a fantastic and safe playground. Elderly people find places to keep watch over a goat and to chat under a tree. As a result, the village has a high degree of embedded freedom.

However, there is a lack of jobs. This is why people leave their villages.

From all around the country people move to the urban textile production hubs. They leave their own homes in the villages to stay in rented rooms. They pay for childcare, for water, for sanitation, for transportation. Women don`t feel safe in public areas. In many cases the only FREESPACE is that same rented room with a TV; they share it with others by occupying it in shifts.

There is another way;an alternative which avoids the pressure caused by the demand for mass-produced clothes. „Didi Textiles“ really are designed for a decentralized production in the village where the quality of life and space is both humane and free and it is this we present in our exhibition.

Site: Venice Architecture Biennale – Artiglierie (Arsenale), Venice, Italy