Pedro Gadanho is an architect, curator, and writer. PhD in architecture and mass media, Gadanho led a recognized architecture renovation practice until 2012, when he became the curator of contemporary architecture at the Museum of Modern Art, MoMA, New York. In 2015, Pedro Gadanho became the founding director of MAAT, the new Museum of Art Architecture and Technology, in Lisbon, working on projects with major multi-media artists such as Apichapong Weerasethakul, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Gary Hill, and others.
Pedro Gadanho is a 2020 Loeb Fellow from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where he developed multidisciplinary research on the environmental crisis and its impacts on architectural practice, leading to the upcoming publication of Climax Change! (Actar Publishers, 2021).
Gadanho holds an MA in art and architecture and is a PhD in architecture and mass media. Until 2012, he was an Auxiliary Professor at the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Porto, in Porto. Currently is a Guest Professor at the Beira Interior University.
From 2012 to 2016, he was the Curator of Contemporary Architecture in the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. From 2015 to 2019, he was also the founding director of MAAT, the new Museum of Art Architecture and Technology, in Lisbon.
As a founding director of MAAT, he completed projects with major multi-media artists such as Apichapong Weerasethakul, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Gary Hill, Tomás Saraceno, Bill Fontana, Tadashi Kawamata, or Jesper Just. In between more than 50 exhibitions programmed over four years, he curated group shows such as Utopia/Dystopia, the multi-venue Eco-Visionaries, Art and Architecture After the Anthropocene, and the film and video exhibition Tension & Conflict, Video Art after 2008. Under his leadership, the museum reached an audience of half a million visitors in its first year of activity.
While he joined MoMA, he curated a number of breakthrough exhibitions based on the Museum’s collections, including 9+1 Ways of Being Political, Cut’n’Paste, Conceptions of Space, and Endless House. He curated two new major initiatives: Uneven Growth, Tactical Urbanisms for Expanding Megacities, in collaboration with the Vienna Biennale, 2014, and A Japanese Constellation: Toyo Ito, SANAA and Beyond, 2016. At over 350.000 visitors, this group show was the most viewed architecture exhibition in the world during that year. He was also responsible for MoMA’s Young Architects Program, a multi-partner initiative that continues to grow in relevance and scope, with two new international venues – in Istanbul, Turkey, and Seoul, Korea – added in 2013.
While at MoMA, Gadanho has kept a high profile in the architectural field at large, with a regular presence in international conferences, juries and other consulting bodies. He was a consultant for the Rolex Mentor-Protegé Arts Inititative 2013, the MacArthurs Fellows Program, and the Pew Fellowship Programs for 2014. He was a jury member for the Bienal Colombiana de Arquitectura 2012, the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award 2013, and the Harvard GSD Wheelright Prize 2014.
Previously to joining MoMA, Pedro Gadanho was based in Lisbon and divided highly successful activities between architecture, teaching, writing and curating. He used all media available at any given moment to provoke critical thinking on the connections between architecture, city and contemporary culture.
Since 2012, he has given lectures at the ETH Zurich, Columbia University, Rice University and Penn State University, as well as in cultural venues in Brazil, Italy, India, Kuwait, Poland, Taiwan and Japan. He participated in conferences such as The Future of the City salon, organized by the New Yorker; Think Space conference, in Zagreb; Performing Architecture symposium, at Princeton University; and Exhibiting Architecture symposium, at Yale University.
Besides contributing regularly to international magazines and books, he was the editor of the BEYOND, Short Stories on the Post-Contemporary book series, in Amsterdam, and kept the Shrapnel Contemporary blog. He published the monograph [Interiors 01/010] (Caleidoscópio) and the book Architecture in Public (Dafne), which was a recipient of the FAD Prize for Thought and Criticism in 2012.
Between 2000 and 2003, he was a director and curator of ExperimentaDesign, the Lisbon Biennial. Since 1999, he is also the founding director of CUC, Centre for Contemporary Urban Culture, organisation with which he co-organised the 1st International Conference on Architecture and Fiction, at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, in 2010.
Previous participation in international conferences included Alternate Currents, at Sheffield University, and Tickle Your Catastrophe, at Ghent University. Beyond presentations included Harvard GSD, the Architectural Association, the Rotterdam Biennale, and the Beyond Media Festival in Florence. He also participated in international panels on architectural curating and writing, including Archilife, Orleans, the CCA or the Venice Architecture Biennale 2008.
As a free-lance curator, he led Metaflux, the Portuguese representation at the 2004 Architecture Venice Biennale; Post.Rotterdam, for the European Culture Capital Porto 2001; Space Invaders, for the British Council London; the 1000 Plateaux talk series for ExperimentaDesign, Lisbon; Influx, for Serralves Contemporary Art Museum, Porto; Pancho Guedes, An Alternative Modernist, for the Swiss Architecture Museum, Basel. He was also the chief-curator of the National Architecture Exhibition Habitar Portugal 06- 08 for the Portuguese Architects Guild, and Performance Architecture, a public space program for the European Capital of Culture 2012, in Guimarães.
He has published articles on architectural curating internationally, including contributions for academic publications and for magazines such as Domus, Milano, or Abitare, Milano. His articles on curating as a critical practice appeared in Oase, Rotterdam, ICAM Print, Vienna, or the Routledge publication Architecture Beyond Criticism. He has co-authored two TV series, and has directed a film documentary on African architect Pancho Guedes.
His architectural practice has been specifically dedicated to spatial recycling and has included exhibition designs such as Flexibility, for the Torino 2008 World Design Capital, gallery spaces such as the Ellipse Foundation Art Centre, in Lisbon, Galeria Presença, in Porto, Transforma Headquarters, in Torres Vedras, and experimental domestic architectures such as Baltasar House, the Orange House and the GMG House, all of them highly acclaimed and published worldwide.
Profiles on his work and curatorial projects have been published in magazines and online sites such as New York Times, New York; Architecture d’Aujourd’Hui, Paris; ICON, London; DAMNo, Brussels; IndabaDesign, Cape Town; Archiworld, Seoul; Coolhunter, New York; Architect’s Newspaper, New York; Domus, Milano; Monocle, London.
In a recent interview with Dinis Guarda, Pedro Gadanho said the following about:
Present state of architecture: evolution over digital platforms
“Architects are seen as powerful because they build structures that are relevant to society. But, they feel powerless because most of the decisions have been laid down for them. They have to lead very big teams of engineers, while undergoing economic pressure to respond in just an effective way. Becoming a corporate architect, you may start plainly using formulas to respond in a mechanical way.
Because of this, as in the art field, architecture may split in two different ways: a smaller field that is creative and expands boundaries, and another broader field simply answering commercial and technical needs. But both risk not talking to each other. So they may split in a definitive way.”
As a curator at MoMA
“It was exciting to enter a high level professional organization, dedicated to present the arts in the best way possible. It was also a wider platform to reach many people. As a curator in the Architecture and Design Department I was in charge of initiating new projects. After 9 months, I did an exhibition on the political aspects of architecture. And while people tend to look at architecture as a commercial production or purely as an art, it was important to reveal these other dimensions of architecture at a museum like MoMA.”