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La Biennale di Venezia

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17th International Architecture Exhibition

Biennale Architettura 2021

How will we live together?

The 17th Exhibition

The 17th International Architecture Exhibition, titled How will we live together?, is curated by Hashim Sarkis and organized by La Biennale di Venezia. The exhibition will be open to the public from Saturday 22nd May to Sunday 21st November 2021 at the Giardini and Arsenale venues.

Statement by Hashim Sarkis

“We need a new spatial contract – said Curator Hashim Sarkis. In the context of widening political divides and growing economic inequalities, we call on architects to imagine spaces in which we can generously live together. The architects invited to participate in the Biennale Architettura 2021 are encouraged to include other professions and constituencies—artists, builders, and craftspeople, but also politicians, journalists, social scientists, and everyday citizens. In effect, the Biennale Architettura 2021 asserts the vital role of the architect as both cordial convener and custodian of the spatial contract.”
“In parallel, the 17th Exhibition also maintains that it is in its material, spatial, and cultural specificity that architecture inspires the ways we live together. In that respect, we ask the participants to highlight those aspects of the main theme that are uniquely architectural.”
“The question How will we live together? is as much a social and political question as a spatial one. Aristotle asked it when he was defining politics, and he came back to propose the model of the city. Every generation asks it and answers it differently. More recently rapidly changing social norms, growing political polarization, climate change, and vast global inequalities are making us ask this question more urgently and at different scales than before. In parallel, the weakness of the political models being proposed today compels us to put space first and, perhaps like Aristotle, look at the way architecture shapes inhabitation for potential models for how we could live together.”
“The Biennale Architettura 2021 is motivated by new kinds of problems that the world is putting in front of architecture, but it is also inspired by the emerging activism of young architects and the radical revisions being proposed by the profession of architecture to take on these challenges. But more than ever, architects are called upon to propose alternatives. As citizens, we mobilize our synthetic skills to bring people together to resolve complex problems. As artists, we defy the inaction that comes from uncertainty to ask ‘What if?’. And as builders, we draw from our bottomless well of optimism. The confluence of roles in these nebulous times can only make our agency stronger and, we hope, our architecture more beautiful.”

How will we live together?

The International Exhibition will be articulated between the Central Pavilion at the Giardini, the Arsenale, and Forte Marghera, including 112 Participants in competition coming from 46 Countries with increased representation from Africa, Latin America, and Asia. In addition to the invited Participants, the Biennale Architettura 2021 also includes Stations and Co-habitats, researchers out of competition on the themes of the Exhibition and developed by universities around the world.
Organised in five scales between the Arsenale and the Central Pavilion at the Giardini, the Exhibition also presents large installations connected to one of the five scales, which will be placed in the external spaces of the Arsenale and the Giardini. “How will we play together?” is the project devoted to children’s play at Forte Marghera, presented by five architects and an architectural photographer.

National Participations

There are 63 National Participations in the historic Pavilions at the Giardini, at the Arsenale and in the historic city centre of Venice. 4 Countries are participating for the first time at the Biennale Architettura: Republic of Azerbaijan​, Grenada, Iraq, and Uzbekistan.

The Italian Pavilion at the Tese delle Vergini in the Arsenale, sponsored and promoted by the Ministero della Cultura, Direzione Generale Creatività Contemporanea, is curated by Alessandro Melis.

Countries can formalise their participation request according to the following procedure:
Procedure for National Participations

Collateral Events

There will be 15 Collateral Events at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition How will we live together? curated by Hashim Sarkis. The Collateral Events approved by the Curator have been promoted by non-profit national and international bodies and institutions. Organized in various venues across the city, they present a wide range of projects and participations that enrich the pluralism of voices that distinguishes the Exhibition in Venice.

Weekends on Architecture

The Weekends on Architecture will supplement the curatorial programme for the 17th International Architecture Exhibition through a series of lectures and panels that will bring together architects and scholars from around the world to address the question How will we live together?. Between October and November 2021, there will be three weekends for six appointments, and in each meeting two topics inspired by the recurring issues in the participants’ projects will be discussed: new challenges that climate change is putting in front of architecture; the role of public space in recent urban uprisings; new reconstruction methods; the changing forms of collective housing across the globe; the Architecture of Education and the Education of the Architect; the relationship between curation and architecture. The full programme will be available soon.

Biennale Sessions: the project for Universities

For the eleventh consecutive year La Biennale dedicates the Biennale Sessions project to Universities, Fine Arts Academies and Higher Education Institutions. The goal is to offer favourable conditions for students and teachers to organize three-day group visits for fifty people or more, offering the possibility to organize seminars free of charge at the Exhibition’s venues, and assistance in organizing their journey and stay.


For the past decade, La Biennale has been devoting increased attention to learning activities, and has developed a growing commitment to so-called “Educational” initiatives addressed to the audience of its Exhibitions’, to universities, young people, and children from schools at all levels. In the past two years, La Biennale’s major Exhibitions – Biennale Architettura 2018 and Biennale Arte 2019 – had 114,672 participants in Educational activities in total, amongst whom 68,205 were youngsters. A broad Educational programme has been scheduled for 2021 as well, addressed to individuals and groups of students, children, adults, families, professionals, companies, and universities. All the initiatives aim at actively involving the participants, and are led by professional operators, carefully trained by La Biennale di Venezia. Educational activities are divided into two categories: Guided Tours and Workshop Activities.


The official catalogue, titled How will we live together?, consists of two volumes.
Volume I, curated by Hashim Sarkis, is dedicated to the International Exhibition. Volume II is focused on the National Participations and the Collateral Events. The Exhibition Guide is conceived to accompany the visitor through the Exhibition. In addition, two distinct volumes, entitled Co-habitats and Expansions, reflect upon the theme of the Exhibition. The graphic design of the Biennale Architettura 2021 coordinated image and the layout of the volumes are by Omnivore, Inc. The volumes are published by La Biennale di Venezia.

Partner and sponsors

The Biennale Architettura 2021 is made possible by the support of the Partner and Official Watch for the event, Rolex.
We wish to thank the sponsors of the 17th Exhibition: Artemide, Edison, Vela – Venezia Unica, and Paola Lenti.
Our thanks go to Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP.


La Biennale would like to thank the Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali e per il Turismo, the regional Institutions that each in their own way support La Biennale, the City of Venice, the Regione Veneto, the Soprintendenza Archeologia, belle arti e paesaggio per il Comune di Venezia e Laguna, the Marina Militare.
La Biennale wishes to thank our Donors, the International Councils and Organizations which are essential to the creation of the 17th Exhibition, and the sponsor Edison who this year is carrying out an energy efficiency intervention on the lighting system of the Arsenale Corderie.
Particularly our thanks go to Hashim Sarkis and to all his team.
And finally we would like to thank the highly professional staff of La Biennale, who work with such great dedication on the organization and management of the Exhibition.

Biennale Architettura
Biennale Architettura