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Sonja Lakić — architect and curator, honoring the human clay

Author: Hana Tiro



Sonja Lakić is an internationally trained architect and researcher with a PhD in Urban Studies. Her work revolves around open architecture and dialectical urbanism, with a keen interest in lived forms of buildings hence anthropological and sociological aspects of architectural design and the built environment. Her interests range from writing, photography, to filmmaking.

Sonja nurtures her fondness towards different disciplines and scales; she also collects oral histories by practicing unconventional ethnography.



The human clay: assembling the exhibition at Palácio Sinel de Cordes in Lisbon, October 2020. © Sonja Lakić



In her work, Sonja traces the actual conducts of life in/of architecture and cities. Sonja’s latest work is in a curatorship role for Lisbon Architecture Triennale, within the framework of Future Architecture platform. The exhibition that she entitled “Handle with Care: Tales of the Invisible” is currently shown in Triennale headquarters, at Palácio Sinel de Cordes, Lisbon, Portugal. From the curatorial statement:


Tales of the Invisible is not just another exhibition about architecture, but a journey deep within whatever architecture may be or may not be, and whatever form it may take or not take. It is a portrayal of the non-evident, and homage to the quirks of the human mind.



… “We can survive without people’s architects, it is more important that people themselves can be architects.

Harry Šein, “Of Emptiness, What Else”, article published in the newspaper “Sirp ja Vasar” following the 1978 Tallinn School exhibition.

© Sonja Lakić, October 2020.


Sonja adds:


This is the tribute to human clay: the one that connects and, yet, separates. Here, we celebrate imagination and passion, individual effort(s) and collective endeavours, dreams and hopes, as well as the courage to act in the name of love for all humankind.

This is an ode to ideas and designs that never came to be; a call to re-think where we stand; an appeal to step back hence unlearn whatever we believe we already know. This is a gentle reminder that life comes before buildings and an appeal to keep one’s mind and heart wide open for this is how one shall do good.



Exhibition Handle with Care: Tales of the Invisible © Hugo David



“Handle with care: Tales of the Invisible” is developed in three chapters, taking the visitors on a retrospective walk across the landscapes of care of the former architectural Europe and/or European architecture, getting them to know better the mindscapes of wizards who, back in the 1960s and the 1970s, decided to stand tall and advocate for human-oriented approach. It is bringing together a diversity of content ranging from studies, axonometrics, photographs, illustrations and sketches, reproduced collages and models, as well as interviews and personal testimonials.


Sonja Lakić has as activist-oriented curatorial approach, and it resulted in Tales of Non-Architectures: The urban wonder of Parco Centrale by Franco Purini and Laura Thermes (from the collection of MAXXI – the National Museum of 21st Century Arts, Rome, Italy), Tales of the Permissible: The Architects of the Tallinn School (from the collection of Estonian Museum of Architecture, Tallinn, Estonia) and The Paperers’ Tale: Smer B, Faculty of Architecture and Civil Engineering (from Museum of Architecture and Design, Ljubljana, Slovenia) that are shown in Lisbon until December 12, 2020.



Follow Sonja’s innovative and human-oriented work on her blog/portfolio and Instagram account.