The international exhibition
The International Exhibition includes 112 Participants in competition from 46 countries, with a growing delegation from Africa, Latin America and Asia and with a wide female representation. The Exhibition is organized into five scales, three are exhibited in the Arsenale and two in the Central Pavilion: Among Diverse Beings, As New Households, As Emerging Communities, Across Borders, As One Planet.
A part of the Exhibition is titled How will we play together?, a contribution by 5 international participating architects who have designed a project dedicated to children’s play, on exhibit at Forte Marghera and open to the public.
This edition also includes a series of participations out of competition:
Stations + Co-Habitats, research into the five scales with relative case studies developed by researchers from universities around the world (Architectural Association, American University of Beirut, The Bartlett, Columbia University, Cooper Union, ETH Zurich, Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development EiABC, ETSAM – Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid, Harvard University, Hong Kong University, Iuav University of Venice, KIT Karlsruhe, KU Leuven, Rice University, and the Venice Lab, a consortium of research groups at MIT); the special participation by the Israeli artist Michal Rovner in the Central Pavilion; the exhibition in the Exhibition by Studio Other Spaces (represented by Olafur Eliasson and Sebastian Behmann) which presents Future Assembly, featuring contributions by all the participants; the theme of sports is the subject of an outdoor installation at the Giardini titled How will we play sport together?; a special event by the Vuslat Foundation presents an installation by Giuseppe Penone at the Arsenale.
For the fifth consecutive year, La Biennale di Venezia and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London present the Special Project at the Pavilion of Applied Arts (Arsenale, Sale d’Armi A) titled Three British Mosques. In collaboration with architect Shahed Saleem, the exhibition looks at the often undocumented do-it-yourself world of mosques adapted for this use. Created by La Biennale di Venezia.
The collaboration with
This year the 17th International Architecture Exhibition will intersect with the 15th International Festival of Contemporary Dance from 23 July to 1 August, hosting at the Arsenale, in the section of the Exhibition titled Among Diverse Beings, the installations and dancers-choreographers of the Biennale College. Under the mentorship of the artistic director of Biennale Danza Wayne McGregor, they will create short choreographic fragments, “snapshots” or “sketches” inspired by the signs, materials and themes of the Architecture Exhibition.
60 National Participations will bring to life the historic Pavilions in the Giardini, at the Arsenale and in the historic city centre of Venice, with 3 countries taking part in the Biennale Architettura for the first time: Grenada, Iraq, and Republic of Uzbekistan.
The Italian Pavilion at the Tese delle Vergini in the Arsenale, sponsored and promoted by the Ministry of Culture, General Direction for Contemporary Creativity, is curated by Alessandro Melis.
A total of 17 Collateral Events have been approved by the Curator, promoted by national and international non-profit entities and institutions. Organized in various venues in the city of Venice, they present a broad spectrum of contributions and participations that enrich the pluralism of voices that distinguishes the Exhibition.
Meetings on Architecture
The programme of the 17th Exhibition is complemented by the Meetings on Architecture, encounters with architects, scholars and professionals from around the world. The protagonists will attempt to answer the question How will we live together? in a series of dialogues focusing on the new challenges that climate change brings to architecture, on the role of public space in the recent urban uprisings, on the new techniques of reconstruction and the changing forms of collective building; on the architecture of education and the education of the architect, on the relationship between curating and architecture.
Declaration by the President
“Once again this year – stated the President of La Biennale Roberto Cicutto – the preparation of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition took place in a climate of uncertainty which the curator Hashim Sarkis and the invited professionals, as well as the representatives of the national participations, addressed with great determination, courage and sense of responsibility. We open the Giardini and the Arsenale with an even greater awareness of just how much La Biennale’s work mirrors the contemporary world, which is here interpreted and sometimes foreshadowed by the proposals put forward by the curators and those who participate with their own work.
Paolo Baratta, whom I wish to thank for having accepted to accompany this edition after having entrusted it to the curator Hashim Sarkis, says in his presentation: We have confirmed that one of the aims of an International Exhibition was also that of increasing a desire for Architecture.
And I would like to add that we have never before had such a need for Architecture.”
Statement by Hashim Sarkis
“The current global pandemic – affirms Hashim Sarkis - has no doubt made the question that this Biennale Architettura is asking all the more relevant and timely, even if somehow ironic, given the imposed isolation. It may indeed be a coincidence that the theme was proposed a few months before the pandemic. However, many of the reasons that initially led us to ask this question - the intensifying climate crisis, massive population displacements, political instabilities around the world, and growing racial, social, and economic inequalities, among others - have led us to this pandemic and have become all the more relevant.
We can no longer wait for politicians to propose a path towards a better future. As politics continue to divide and isolate, we can offer alternative ways of living together through architecture. 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.”
Special Golden Lion to
Lina Bo Bardi
If there is one architect who embodies most fittingly the theme of the Biennale Architettura 2021, it is Lina Bo Bardi, who is the recipient of the Special Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in memoriam of this year edition. The acknowledgment was recommended by Hashim Sarkis and approved by the Board of Directors of La Biennale di Venezia.
“Her career as a designer, editor, curator, and activist reminds us of the role of the architect as convener and importantly, as the builder of collective visions – stated Sarkis. Lina Bo Bardi also exemplifies the perseverance of the architect in difficult times whether wars, political strife, or immigration, and her ability to remain creative, generous, and optimistic throughout.”
The project for universities
La Biennale again this year dedicates the Biennale Sessions project to Universities, Academies and Institutes of Higher Education. The goal is to facilitate three-day self-organized visits for groups of at least 50 students and teachers, who will be assisted in organizing their journey and their stay, and will be offered the possibility of organizing seminars to be held free of charge in the venues of the exhibition.
Over the past decade La Biennale has given increasing importance to its educational aims, maturing a strong commitment with its Educational activities towards the audiences of the Exhibitions, the universities, young people and children in schools of all levels. The Biennale Architettura 2018 and the Biennale Arte 2019 involved a total of 114,672 people, including 68,205 young participants in the Educational activities. For the year 2021, there will be a generous programme offered to individuals and groups of students, children, adults, families, professionals, companies and universities. All the initiatives pursue the active involvement of the participants and are conducted by personnel selected and trained by La Biennale. They are divided between Guided Tours and Workshop Activities.
The official catalogue, titled How will we live together?, consists of two volumes.
Volume I, edited by Hashim Sarkis, is dedicated to the International Exhibition. Volume II is dedicated to the National Participations and the Collateral Events. The Exhibition Guide is conceived to accompany the visitor along the exhibition route. The publications also include two books in English, titled Co-Habitats and Expansions, which reflect on the themes developed in the Exhibition. The coordinated graphic identity of the Biennale Architettura and the layout of the books are by Omnivore, Inc.
The books are published by La Biennale di Venezia.
The partners and the sponsors
Biennale Architettura 2021 has been made possible by the support of Rolex, Partner and Official Watch of the event.
We would like to thank the Sponsors of Biennale Architettura 2021: Artemide, Edison, Vela - Venezia Unica and Paola Lenti.
We would also like to thank Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP.
The media partner for the 17th International Architecture Exhibition is Rai Cultura which, on its three channels Rai 5, Rai Storia and Rai Scuola and its web platform, will also follow all the events of La Biennale di Venezia for the year 2021.
We would like to thank the Ministry of Culture, the Institutions in our region that each in its own way support La Biennale, the City of Venice, the Regione del Veneto, the Soprintendenza Archeologia, Belle Arti e Paesaggio per il Comune di Venezia e Laguna, the Marina Militare.
We also wish to thank the donors, the international Entities and Institutions who were important to the outcome of the 17th Exhibition, and to our sponsor Edison which worked to bring energy efficiency to the lighting system in the Corderie dell’Arsenale.
In particular, our thanks go to Hashim Sarkis and to his entire team.
And finally, we wish to thank the fine professionals of La Biennale who applied themselves with great dedication to the development and management of the Architecture Exhibition.