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In a press conference on 16 July 2019, the Biennale President Paolo Baratta, and curator Hashim Sarkis announced the title of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition: How will we live together?
Hashim Sarkis explained his choice as follows:
“We need a new spatial contract. 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: together as human beings who, despite our increasing individuality, yearn to connect with one another and with other species across digital and real space; together as new households looking for more diverse and dignified spaces for inhabitation; together as emerging communities that demand equity, inclusion and spatial identity; together across political borders to imagine new geographies of association; and together as a planet facing crises that require global action for us to continue living at all.
The architects invited to participate in Biennale Architettura 2020 are encouraged to engage other professions and constituencies—artists, builders, and craftspeople, but also politicians, journalists, social scientists, and everyday citizens. In effect, Biennale Architettura 2020 asserts the overlooked role of the architect as both cordial convener and custodian of the spatial contract.
In parallel, Biennale Architettura 2020 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 curators of the national participations are called upon to address one or more of the sub-themes of the Exhibition. The need for more inclusive social housing and equipment or for more connective urban and territorial tissue remains as pressing in emerging economies as in advanced ones.
The year 2020 has often been referred to as a milestone on the path to a better future. Many nations and cities have devised a 'Vision 2020.' The year is upon us. We look to the collective architectural imagination to meet this momentous occasion with creativity and courage.”
Hashim Sarkis - biographical notes
Hashim Sarkis is an architect, educator, and scholar. He is principal of Hashim Sarkis Studios (HSS), established in 1998 with offices in Boston and Beirut. He is also the Dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) since 2015.
Before joining MIT, Sarkis was the Aga Khan Professor of Landscape Architecture and Urbanism at Harvard University. He has also taught at the Rhode Island School of Design, Yale University, the American University of Beirut, and the Metropolis Program in Barcelona.
The architectural and urban projects of HSS include affordable housing, houses, parks, institutional buildings, urban design, and town planning. HSS has received several awards for its projects in Lebanon, including for the Housing of the Fishermen of Tyre, Byblos Town Hall, and the Courtower Houses, on the coast of Aamchit. The firm’s work has been exhibited around the world, including at the Pavilion of the United States at the Biennale Architettura 2014 and the Pavilion of Albania at the Biennale Architettura 2010, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and at the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam, the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture of Shenzhen/Hong Kong, and the Bienal de Arquitectura y Urbanismo in Valparaíso. The work has also been published extensively, most recently in a monograph by NESS.docs (New York, Barcelona: Actar, 2017).
Sarkis was member of the international jury of the Biennale Architettura 2016.
Sarkis earned a Bachelor of Architecture and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design, and a Master of Architecture and a PhD in Architecture from Harvard University. He is the author and editor of several books and articles on modern architecture history and theory, including Josep Lluis Sert, The Architect of Urban Design (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008); Circa 1958, Lebanon in the Projects and Plans of Constantinos Doxiadis (Beirut: Dar Annahar, 2003); and Le Corbusier's Venice Hospital (Munich: Prestel, 2001).
From press information
© Photo: Bryce Vickmark. Courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia
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