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Biennale Architettura 2018

Meetings on Architecture


Meetings on Architecture is a programme of events that take place during the 16th International Architecture Exhibition from May to November in 2018. The programme is curated by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara and explores all aspects of their FREESPACE Manifesto.

Meetings on Architecture is an opportunity to articulate diverse responses and interpretations of the Manifesto, while also providing a platform to hear from the many emerging and established voices presented in the Exhibition. The titles for the meetings are inspired by the text in the Manifesto and the ambition is for the audience to engage in lively provocative discussions about essential topics of our time, all framed around the concept of FREESPACE.

The meetings take the form of panel discussions, a talk by the Curators, two conferences and a supporting film programme.


01: FREESPACE 2:30 pm Saturday 26th May, Teatro Piccolo Arsenale
We will ask: what is FREESPACE? A panel discussion including established and emerging architects from the Exhibition will be moderated by the Curators Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell, and will reveal and analyse the innovative interpretations and responses to the theme of the 16th International Architecture Exhibition.
Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell, Francis Diébédo Keré, Michael Maltzan, Dorte Mandrup, Marina Tabassum

02: SPACE FOR OPPORTUNITY 2:30 pm Saturday 9th June, Teatro alle Tese
The discussion will question the importance and impact of awards on standards and on the awareness and appreciation of architecture by a wider audience.
Yvonne Farrell / Anne Lacaton and Jean Philippe Vassal (Lacaton & Vassal) / Jo Taillieu (architecten de vylder vinck taillieu)

03: GENEROSITY 2:30 pm Saturday 7th July, Teatro alle Tese
This panel will provoke a debate on what ’generosity’ means in architecture, in different cultures, in communities, in political processes and show discuss how it can be obtained and proclaimed.
Shelley McNamara with Eva Prats and Ricardo Flores (Flores & Prats), Peter Salter (Salter Collingridge Design), Cino Zucchi

04: NEW WAYS OF THINKING 2:30 pm Saturday 25th August ,Teatro alle Tese
This panel will review ways of thinking, new ways of seeing the world, of inventing solutions, systems and technology where architecture provides for the well-being and dignity of each citizen.
Yvonne Farrell with Laura Peretti, Sami Rintala (Rintala Eggerttson architects), Elizabeth Diller (Diller Scofidio + Renfro)

05: SHAPING CITIES IN AN URBAN AGE 2:30 pm Saturday 15th September, Teatro alle Tese
A conference organised by London School of Economics Cities and Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft.
Shelley McNamara and Ricky Burdett with José Castillo (a|911), Jean-Louis Missika

06: THE PRACTICE OF TEACHING 2:30 pm Saturday 20th October, Teatro alle Tese
The panel will discuss the mutually beneficial and reciprocal relationship between teaching and practice as part of the creative process with architects who teach in schools of architecture.
Shelley McNamara with Sandra Barclay (Barclay & Crousse), Mario Botta, Robert McCarter, Níall McLaughlin, Rozana Montiel

07: COMMUNICATING ARCHITECTURE 2:30 pm Saturday 27th October, Teatro alle Tese
Architecture exhibitions are important sites of research, dissemination, and communication. This panel will extend and further challenge the concept of exhibiting architecture in developing communication and representational techniques to test ideas and engage more deeply with the public.
Yvonne Farrell with Pia Ilonen (Talli Architecture and Design), Kieran Long (ArkDes), David Smith

08: THE FREESPACE OF HERITAGE IN A MODERN AGE 2:30 pm Saturday 10th November, Teatro alle Tese
To mark the European Year of Cultural Heritage, this conference will discuss the role of Heritage within the concept of FREESPACE.
Paolo Baratta (introduction), Ricky Burdett, Fasil Giorghis, Elizabeth Hatz, Andra Matin, Shelley McNamara, Abha Narain Lambah, Salvatore Settis, Cino Zucchi

09: THE EARTH AS A CLIENT 2:30 pm Saturday 24th November, Teatro alle Tese
This panel provides the opportunity to emphasise nature’s free gifts of light, sunlight and moonlight, air, gravity, materials, natural and man-made resources and discuss the responsibility within architecture.
Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell, Barry Bergdoll, Rafael Moneo, Mary Robinson, Simone Rots, Xu Tiantian

10. IN CONVERSATION FREESPACE 2:30 pm Sunday 25th November, Teatro alle Tese
The Curators of the 16th International Architecture Exhibition, in conversation with the President of La Biennale di Venezia, will review the legacy of the FREESPACE Manifesto.
Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell in conversation with Paolo Baratta.


The Meetings on Architecture program is enriched by a series of Meetings organised by the Participating Countries in response to the invitation from La Biennale and the Curators Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, hosted at the Teatro alle Tese.

Calendar of November 2018:

6 November Teatro alle Tese 2:30 pm
Villa Adriana Villa d’Este
Rethinking Villa Adriana. Oltre lo spazio archeologico
Andrea Bruciati with Francesco Cellini, Gaia Piccaloro, Fabio Sedia, Giuseppe Rallo, Renato Rizzi

9 November Teatro alle Tese 2:30 pm
Nordic Countries Pavilion
Embedded Architectures: Challenging the Architecture – Nature Divide
James Taylor-Foster with John Helmfridsson, Michael Hensel, Beate Hølmebakk, Eero Lundén

16 November Teatro alle Tese 2:30 pm
Saudi Arabia Pavilion
Spaces in between
Dr. Sumaya Al-Solaiman (curator), Jawaher Al-Sudairy (curator), Abdulrahman Gazzaz (architect), Turki Gazzaz (architect), Abdulelah bin Abdulaziz Alsheikh

17 November Teatro alle Tese 2:30 pm
Australia Pavilion
Approaches of repair
Mauro Baracco, Louise Wright - Baracco+Wright Architects, and Linda Tegg (curators) in conversation with Nina Bassoli (architect and journalist, Lotus International, Polimi)

21 November Teatro alle Tese 2:30 pm
Finland Pavilion
Freespace of Libraries
Antti Nousjoki, Päivi Meuronen, Jonas Malmberg, Tuula Haavisto / introduced by Riitta Kaivosoja / moderated by Hanna Harris with Anni Vartola

22 November Teatro alle Tese 2:30 pm
United Arab Emirates Pavilion
Lifescapes Beyond Bigness
Dr Khaled Alawadi

23 November Teatro alle Tese 2:30 pm
Albania Pavilion
City Eutopias and Eutopic Tirana
Eliza Hoxha, Elton Koritari (curator), Pier Paolo Tamburelli

For a full calendar of events, please visit the Agenda

Freespace films

As part of the Meetings on Architecture Programme, we selected a programme of film-based work, both documentary and descriptive, that complement the diverse responses, interpretations and qualities drawn from the FREESPACE Manifesto. The Programme is a combination of film installations looping daily, as well as special feature-length screenings, which are shown once a week. Whether you enter the room by chance, or plan a visit, our intention is that you will be drawn into stories and images revealing the relationship between architecture, landscape and society.

For daily screening, we chose to show the work of architects Hiroshi Sambuichi, Lina Bo Bardi and Kevin Roche, as well as two films by Yuri Ancarani and Jeff Orlowski which focus on the materials: marble and ice. Hiroshi Sambuichi shows an extraordinary poetic sensitivity to achieving an equilibrium between the natural world and the man-made world. Lina Bo Bardi’s work represents a radically fresh and humanistic approach to the making of both large and small buildings. The values articulated by the architect Kevin Roche, Pritzker Prize winner in 1982, very much reflect the values of the Freespace theme. Yuri Ancarani shows the need for a sense of respect and responsibility as we use the earth’s resources. Directed by Jeff Orlowski, James Balog dramatically highlights the enormous effects of climate change on our fragile planet.

For special feature-length screenings, we chose to show three films. Frederick Wiseman’s film “Ex Libris: The New York Public Library” celebrates the most important democratic institution in our society today, which is the freespace of the Public Library. “Le Centre National de la Danse” in Paris and “Unfinished Spaces: Cuba's Architecture of Revolution” highlight heroic visionary buildings.

Yvonne Farrell + Shelley McNamara


Looping daily, 10.00 am – 6.00 pm:

Il Capo is a film by Yuri Ancarani. It follows a quarry boss as he guides his men in machines using gestures and signs. This seductive film displays the monolithic quality of the Carrara marble landscape as it transforms before our very eyes. (15 minutes, 2010)

Chasing Ice is documentary film, directed by Jeff Orlowski, which follows Nature photographer, James Balog as he reveals the beauty of ice and the impact of climate change. In relation to the FREESPACE Manifesto, which refers to the Earth as a Client, this film captures dramatic scenes from a glacier calving event which took place at Jakobshavn Glacier in Greenland. (23 minutes, 2012)

Sambuichi: One with the Earth’s Cycle is an extended interview with Japanese architect and experimentalist in sustainable architecture, Hiroshi Sambuichi, and directed by Christian Lund. It explains how the architect integrates natural, moving materials - sun, water and air - into his architecture. (28 minutes, 2017)

Kevin Roche: The Quiet Architect is a excerpt from a documentary by Mark Noonan. This film excerpt focuses on the marvelous Ford Foundation Building in Manhattan, completed in 1968. This building expresses the architect's respect and consideration for the office worker. His ambition was to create a sense of community and to enrich the daily life of the workers by making a luscious central garden shared with the public. (excerpt from minute 5.34 to 13.04, O.V. 82 minutes, 2017)

Lina Bo Bardi is the subject of two shorts by Tapio Snellman. Casa de Vidro, shows how in the intimacy of her home, Bo Bardi lived the same values she embraced through her public projects. (3 minutes, 2012); SESC Pompéia depicts Bo Bardi’s most extraordinary social and cultural project adapted in the 1980s and shows how local communities continue to embrace the building 40 years on. (10 minutes, 2012)


Special feature-length screenings every Saturday at 2:30 pm:

Ex Libris: The New York Public Library, a new documentary by Frederick Wiseman that goes behind the scenes of one of the greatest knowledge institutions of the world. The film reveals the life of a building that has successfully been serving citizens for over a hundred years. (2017,197 minutes)

June 2nd – June 23rd – July 14th – August 4th – August 25th – September 15th – October 6th – October 27th – November 17th


Le Centre National de la Danse is a documentary directed by Juliette Garcias about the transformation of a large concrete building designed in the 1970’s by architect Jacques Kalisz. Twenty years later, the centre was deserted until two young architects Antoinette Robain and Claire Guieysse rehabilitated it. (2011, 26 minutes)

May 26th– June 9th – June 30th – July 21st – August 11th – September 1st – September 22nd – October 13th – November 3rd – November 24th 


Unfinished Spaces: Cuba's Architecture of Revolution is a documentary about Las Escuelas Nacionales de Arte in Cuba, directed by Alysa Nahmias and Benjamin Murray. The film tells the incredible story of the cycle of life of the buildings from their founding by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara to their eventual abandonment and recent efforts to restore them. The film contains interviews with the three visionary architects Ricardo Porro, Roberto Gottardi, and Vittorio Garatti. (2011, 86 minutes)

May 27th(Sunday) – June 16th – July 7th – July 28th – August 18th – September 8th – September 29th – October 20th – November 10th – November 25th


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