At the 16th International Biennale of Architecture in Venice 2018, the Czech-Slovak exhibition pavilion will present a project by artist Kateřina Šedá exploring how tourism affects urban life. The Biennale’s theme is Freespace, a freely accessible space expressing generosity of spirit and a sense of humanity as architecture’s central function.

Kateřina Šedá’s project addresses a theme that is often debated today – the growth in tourism and the problems it brings. The most serious among them is the gradual depopulation of city centres, as residents move to the outskirts. The unfortunate result is that cities become mere empty stage sets lacking any “normal life”. The artist carried out her own research and analysis of specific cities and surprisingly identified features identical with those of socially isolated locations. She then resolved to seek a solution.

She chose two cities for her project – Český Krumlov and Venice, Italy, where the Biennale of Architecture will take place. Český Krumlov’s downtown is virtually uninhabited today and the same will happen to Venice by 2030, according to statistics.

The UNES-CO company, which the artist will create for the purpose of her project, will try to reverse this trend. It seeks gradually to restore life to depopulated city centres. The Venetian pavilion will turn into the headquarters of this company, which addresses the situation as it concerns places listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites. The company uses the example of Český Krumlov to present the concept of returning normal life and activities to cities affected by excess tourism through new job creation.

Kateřina Šedá (1977) has long used social architecture as a tool in her work. She has spent many years working with groups of inhabitants in various locations ranging from residents of a luxurious town in California surrounded by a wall, of satellite towns, housing estates or villages, where “nothing exists” owing to proximity to a large city, to people living in socially excluded places in central Europe. Her long-term work with interpersonal relationships seeks to draw people out of established stereotypes or social isolation. She employs their own (provoked) activities and new common means to bring about a permanent change in their behaviour. Kateřina Šedá has won a number of awards for her work; last year she was named Architect of the Year 2017.