Homelessness, Architecture and the City

Munich’s Architecture Museum asks “Who’s Next?” in a homelessness exhibition that runs until the 6th of February 2022. The exhibition discusses ways of perceiving homelessness as well as potential solutions from architecture and other disciplines.

The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened homelessness all over the world. Even before the virus struck, people experiencing homelessness were amongst the most vulnerable members of society. “Who’s Next?”, the latest exhibition at Munich’s Architecture Museum asks important question about the visibility and invisibility of people without a home, while also looking at the ambivalent reactions between ignorance and rejection that other members of society show towards them.

The fact that due to COVID-19, many more people are threatened by homelessness, offers a change in perspective. The exhibition discusses ways of perceiving homelessness as well as potential solutions from architecture and other disciplines.

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Homelessness as a societal problem

Importantly, the exhibition does not portray homelessness as an individual tragedy. Instead, it is presented as a challenge for all of society that needs systematic solutions. After an analysis of global statistics and social-political background, visitors will experience a closer look at homelessness in cities such as Tokyo, Mumbai, New York and Los Angeles. The exhibition will challenge the notion that poverty can be an individual’s “fault”, which has been dominant in many countries. However, the pandemic as well as rising unemployment have changed this perspective. Countless people all over the world now fear that they might be next to lose their home.

What can architects do against homelessness?

In addition, “Who’s Next?” shows historical and contemporary architecture projects intended to reintegrated people who have experienced homelessness into society. While architecture alone surely cannot solve homelessness, this exhibition looks into the influence that architecture can wield. It asks how architects, in collaboration with other professionals, can provide a permanent home to people experiencing homelessness in cities all over the world. The knowledge of national, regional and city-level politicians, NGOs, religious organisations, health institutes and scientists is also key to tackling the crisis.

To show the interaction of different disciplines, Munich’s Architecture Museum of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) will look at the historic and the current development of homelessness. German cities as well as many international cities are interesting case studies to understand homelessness and its challenges through documentaries and other media.

High-level support for the exhibition

Daniel Talesnik, a trained architect working as a scientist at the Architecture Museum in Museum, has curated the exhibition. In his work, Daniel focuses on modern and contemporary architecture and urbanism. His focus lies on architectural pedagogy and the relationships between architecture and political ideologies. He holds a PhD by the Columbia University for his research on the Bauhaus movement in communist countries.

Daniel also teaches at Munich’s Technical University. He was supported by Ella Neumaier, Ilyas Kerem Yilmaz, Ann-Kathrin Gügel, Theresa Thanner and Anna-Maria Mayerhofer. Graphic design for the exhibition is by Kathryn Gillmore and the exhibition’s architecture is designed by Carmen Wolf. Furthermore, “Who’s Next?” has received generous support from many prestigious sponsors. The Bavarian state ministry for family, work and social affairs, the German “Architektur Kultur Stiftung”, the BÜSCHL group, the “PIN. Freunde der Pinakothek der Moderne e.V.” and the Bavarian foundation for homeless support are among the many funders for this exhibition.

Why the city of Munich needs to reflect on homelessness

To further enhance the exhibition, students and teachers of the Chair for curatorial practice created an event series called “Let’s talk! We need to talk about homelessness” in Munich. A mix of formats asks visitors to enter a dialogue on the intersection between homelessness and urban design, about the way they speak about homelessness, and about future visions. A larger question is how Munich as a city affected by a housing shortage can face its challenges. Questions such as “What is the city’s responsibility in providing housing?”, “Which role can and should architecture play?”, and “How can we make homelessness more visible in society?” invite discussions among people from Munich and visitors. The exhibition “Who’s Next?” at Munich’s Architecture Museum runs until February 6th, 2022.

You can find more about the exhibition here.

A series of talks accompanies the exhibition. Learn more here.