At the heart of the Exhibition in the Central Pavilion are some of the most significant African and African Diaspora practitioners working today. Adjaye Associates, Cave_bureau, MASS Design Group, SOFTLAB@PSU, Kéré Architecture, Ibrahim Mahama, Koffi & Diabaté Architectes, atelier masōmī, Olalekan Jeyifous, Studio Sean Canty, Sumayya Vally and Moad Musbahi, Thandi Loewenson, Theaster Gates Studio, Urban American City (Toni Griffin), Hood Design Studio and Basis all represent a distilled snapshot of the myriad roles, models and fields in which they all work, teach and practice. Those gathered here represent a fraction of the exploding community of African and African Diaspora practitioners who are redefining the term ‘practice’ in ways that could not have been imagined a decade ago.
To explore the idea of an expanding definition of architecture further, in the next section, Dangerous Liaisons, which unfolds in the Arsenale complex, the 37 practitioners chosen all work in hybrid ways, across disciplinary boundaries, across geographies, and across new forms of partnership and collaboration. There are single practitioners (Gloria Cabral, Liam Young, Suzanne Dhaliwal, Huda Tayob, Killing Architects); medium-sized architectural firms (MMA Design Studio, Kate Otten Architects) as well as two- or three-person firms who combine teaching and practice equally (Office 24-7 Architecture and Lemon Pebble Architects, Wolff Architects). There are larger practices that focus on decarbonisation in novel ways (White Arkitekter, BDR bureau & carton123 architecten, Flores & Prats Architects, and Andrés Jaque / Office for Political Innovation), as well as experimental practices (Gbolade Design Studio, Studio Barnes, Le laboratoire d’architecture) whose work seeks to expand our understanding of what it means to decolonise knowledge and production. Work from every continent is represented here (RMA Architects, Neri&Hu Design and Research Office, ZAO/standardarchitecture, Grandeza Studio, Ursula Biemann, Gloria Cabral, Paulo Tavares, Studio Barnes, orizzontale, SCAPE Landscape Architecture, Studio of Serge Attukwei Clottey, Twenty Nine Studio, Low Design Office, AMAA Collaborative Architecture, DAAR - Alessandro Petti and Sandi Hilal, David Wengrow and Eyal Weizman with Forensic Architecture and Nebelivka project) and from disciplines such as film, investigative journalism, adaptive reuse, land reclamation, grass roots community-based practice.
For the first time ever in the Biennale Architettura, the Curator’s Special Projects and Special Participants are a large category, out of competition. They are designated ‘special’ because of the close relationship with the Curator and her Curator's Assistants, working together to produce work in specific categories chosen by the Curator to complement the Exhibition. Three of these categories, Mnemonic; Food, Agriculture and Climate Change; and Geography and Gender look specifically at the complex relationship between memory and architecture (Adjaye Associates with Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, Craig McClenaghan Architecture, Looty, and Studio & and Höweler + Yoon); between climate change, land practices and food production (Margarida Waco, Gloria Pavita, BothAnd Group) and between gender, architecture and performance (Ines Weizman, J. Yolande Daniels, Gugulethu Sibonelelo Mthembu, Caroline Wanjiku Kihato, Clare Loveday and Mareli Stolp). An additional category, Guests from the Future, features 22 emerging practitioners of colour whose work is threaded throughout the Arsenale complex and the Central Pavilion, providing a glimpse into who the architect of the future is likely to be, and where their interests, concerns and ambitions may lie. Black Females in Architecture, Dele Adeyemo, Cartografia Negra, Ibiye Camp, Courage Dzidula Kpodo with Postbox Ghana, Elementerre with Nzinga Biegueng-Mboup and Chérif Tall, Folasade Okunribido, Lauren-Loïs, Miriam Hillawi Abraham, Arinjoy Sen, Faber Futures, Tanoa Sasraku, Riff Studio, Anusha Alamgir, Guada Labs, Banga Collective, New South, Aziza Chaouni Projects, Blac Spac, MOE+ Art Architecture, Juergen Strohmayer and Glenn DeRoché have been selected for their ground-breaking work at all scales, in multiple contexts, from the ‘real’ to the imaginary and in between. The Curator’s Special Projects are additionally supported by Ford Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Three Special Participations, filmmaker Amos Gitaï; architecture’s first poet laureate Rhael 'LionHeart' Cape, Hon FRIBA and photographer James Morris are located in the Arsenale at key moments. Participants’ work here is both archival and experiential, complementing the Curator’s Footnotes, which comprise short texts by the Curator and photographs by Curator’s Assistant Alice Clancy, Curator’s Research Team Member Festus Jackson-Davis, that run throughout the Exhibition. Again, for the first time ever, the Biennale Architettura will include the Biennale College Architettura, which will run from 25 June to 22 July 2023. Fifteen renowned international tutors, Samia Henni, Marina Otero, Nana Biamah-Ofosu, Thireshen Govender, Lorenzo Romito, Jacopo Galli, Philippa Tumubweinee, Ngillan Gbadebo Faal, Rahesh Ram, Guillermo Fernández-Abascal, Urtzi Grau, Samir Pandya, Alice Clancy, Sarah de Villiers and Manijeh Verghese will work with fifty students, early career practitioners and academics from around the world, selected through an Open Call process over the four weeks of the teaching programme. A documentary of the educational experience will be filmed by Ángel Borrego Cubero and released in October this year. An international cast of critics will join the College in July. The Exhibition was designed with the support of the Curator’s Assistants, Emmett Scanlon, Laurence Lord, Alice Clancy and Sarah de Villiers in tandem with Fred Swart’s graphic and visual identity.