Exhibit in Venice: The Cooling Solution

Exhibit in Venice: The Cooling Solution

Photographic exhibition May 19 – July 31, 2023

I am very excited to make available to everyone the project The Cooling Solution we have been working on with a fantastic team for the last years. I hope you will be able to Venice to enjoy as much as we did this pioneering experiment within an ERC, a rare but meaningful meeting between art&science. If you cannot come to Venice by end of July 2023, I then invite you to browse our online exhibition on http://thecoolingsolution.com or eventually help us in bringing the exhibition to your city or country.

Drop me a line if you have ideas! We really would love to make it travel.

In the photograph by Gaia Squarci, Flamengo, a residential neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2022.

The Cooling Solution is a scientific project that uses photography to investigate how people of different socioeconomic backgrounds around the world adapt to high temperatures and humidity. Beginning with the title, the term solution is meant to call this adaptation paradigm into question. The project examines the phenomenon of rising AC demand in its various facets, addressing its numerous shortcomings and drawbacks, as well as the reasons underlying its use, which are often related to the necessity of protecting the most fragile members of society from health hazards. It is within this context that. According to the report of the International Environmental Agency, “The Future of Cooling”, published in 2018, 10 new AC units will be sold every second for the next 30 years, bringing the number of installed cooling units worldwide to 5.6 billion by 2050. 

The Cooling Solution combines scientific research, photography, and storytelling to investigate people’s lived experiences as they deal with thermal discomfort in Brazil, India, Indonesia, and Italy. The project brings together the scientific results  of the 5-year-long European research project ENERGYA with personal stories about everyday strategies to cope with heat, as influenced by socioeconomic conditions, demographics, urbanization, and culture. The goal is to use photography’s communicative power to make academic knowledge accessible to the wider public.

As AC becomes cheaper and more efficient, it may end up being used in places where heat stress could instead be adequately tackled by passive cooling solutions. As a result, humanity is facing the risk of being trapped in a new, vicious cycle created by consolidated behaviors and urban environments shaped by the ubiquity of AC. It is now clear that the era of energy-intensive material comfort must come to an end. What is perhaps less clear is that sacrificing this way of living doesn’t mean sacrificing thermal comfort, a concept whose parameters are determined not only by climate, but also by habits, culture, and society. 

AC adoption rates in households across social classes. Read more on thecoolingsolution.com

This exhibition is a journey through human experiences in Brazil, India, Indonesia, and Italy that focuses on cases of hyper cooling, heat dumping, lack of cooling, traditional cooling and cutting-edge technologies. While these countries, however different, are following a similar trend driving them towards a homogenized notion of thermal comfort, The Cooling Solution also examines vernacular architecture, alternative cooling methods, innovation, and dedicated research efforts. No doubt we will live on a warmer planet, and no doubt AC can and will save lives. However, there is also a great richness in the diversity of cooling methods available that are waiting to be re-discovered, re-visited, and scaled-up.


Photography by Gaia Squarci, research by the ENERGYA team at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, led by prof. Enrica De Cian, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and Fondazione CMCC, curatorship by Kublaiklan, project coordination by Elementsix.

Free entry Monday through Sunday: 10am-6pm

  • Indoors: Ca’ Foscari Zattere – Cultural Flow Zone, Dorsoduro 1392, Venice
  • Outdoors: Cortile Grande, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Dorsoduro 3246, Venice



  • Gaia Squarci is a photographer and videographer who divides her time between Milan and New York City, where she teaches Digital Storytelling at ICP. Gaia is a contributor of Prospekt, an IWMF fellow and National Geographic grantee. With a background in Art History and Photojournalism, she leans toward a personal approach that moves away from the descriptive narrative tradition in documentary photography and video. Her work is focused on themes linked to the relationship between human beings and the environment, disability, aging and family relationships. Her project “Ashes and Autumn Flowers” was nominated for the Prix Pictet in 2020 and the Leica Oskar Barnack award in 2022. POYi awarded her cinematography and photography work respectively in 2014 and 2017, and her installation Broken Screen has been selected for the exhibition reGeneration3 at Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne in 2015. Clients include the New York Times, the New Yorker, Time Magazine, Vogue, Il Corriere della Sera, D di Repubblica, Marie Claire Italia, among others.
  • Enrica De Cian is professor in environmental economics at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, research scientist at Fondazione Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici and at European Institute on Economics and the Environment, and member of the scientific committee at the New Institute Center for Environmental Humanities. She is the recipient of an ERC Starting Grant for the project ENERGYA – Energy use for Adaptation, the results of which will be summarized during the exhibition. She coordinates Ca’ Foscari’s PhD in Science and Management of Climate Change.
  • Antonella Mazzone is a Research Associate at the Centre for the Environment (University of Oxford) and a fellow at Oxford Martin School, with a background in humanities and social science. Her current work focuses on the interplay between gender, cultures, and indigenous knowledge in energy studies.
  • Elementsix is a web agency specialized in providing dissemination and dissemination services to researchers and academics with the most diverse backgrounds. Elementsix has supervised together with Gaia Squarci the curation of photographic shoots and associated stories and will coordinate the scientific dissemination scheduled around this exhibition.
  • Kublaiklan explores widely accessible ways of interacting with photography by designing exhibiting and educational projects for non-profit organizations, institutions and individuals. At the same time, it investigates contemporary visual culture through research projects aiming at building awareness and promoting a conscious use of photography as a language.


The exhibition, curated by Kublaiklan, would not have been possible without the economic research led by Enrica De Cian and her ENERGYA team, the ethnographic research conducted by Antonella Mazzone, the policy research carried out by Marinella Davide, and the photography of Gaia Squarci, all of which were coordinated by Elementsix. 

This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (Grant agreement No 756194), and has received contributions from the Fondazione CMCC and the ACTION Marie Curie project led by Marinella Davide (grant agreement No 841291). It is jointly organized by the Department of Economics at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and THE NEW INSTITUTE Centre for Environmental Humanities.