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Venice Architecture Biennale 2021

© Photo: Haupt & Binder / universes.art

17th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia


Hashim Sarkis, © Photo: Bryce Vickmark


The International Exhibition How will we live together? includes 112 participants in competition from 46 countries, with a growing delegation from Africa, Latin America and Asia and with comparable representation of men and women. 63 National Participations will bring to life the historic Pavilions in the Giardini, at the Arsenale and in the historic city centre. A total of 17 Collateral Events by national and international non-profit entities and institutions will take place in various venues in the city. The programme is complemented by the Meetings on Architecture as well as by a large Educational Program.


Extracts from Hashim Sarkis' statement:

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;
- together as a planet facing crises that require global action for all of us to continue living at all.

The participants in the 17th International Architecture Exhibition are collaborating with other professions and constituencies - artists, builders, engineers, 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, this 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.

Unpacking the Question

The theme of the Biennale Architettura 2021 is its title. The title is a question. The question is open:

How: Speaks to practical approaches and concrete solutions, highlighting the primacy of problem solving in architectural thinking.

Will: Signals looking toward the future, but also seeking vision and determination, drawing from the power of the architectural imaginary.

We: Stands for first person, plural, and thus inclusive (of other peoples, of other species), appealing to a more empathetic understanding of architecture.

Live: Means not simply to exist but to thrive, to flourish, to inhabit, and to express life, tapping into architecture’s inherent optimism.

Together: Implies collectives, commons, universal values, highlighting architecture as a collective form and a form of expression.

?: Indicates an open question, not a rhetorical one, looking for (many) answers, celebrating the plurality of values in and through architecture.


The question, "How will we live together?" is at once ancient and urgent. The Babylonians asked it as they were building their tower. Aristotle asked it when he was writing about politics. His answer was "the city. " The French and American Revolutions asked it. Against the tumultuous backdrop of the early 1970s, Timmy Thomas passionately pleaded it in his song "Why Can’t We Live Together?". It is indeed as much a social and political question as a spatial one. More recently, rapidly changing social norms, the political polarization between left and right, climate change, and the growing gap between labor and capital are making this question more urgently relevant 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 in order to imagine potential models for how we could live together. (…)

The current global pandemic 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.

Five Scales

The Biennale Architettura 2021 is organized into five scales:

Three in the Arsenale
1. Among Diverse Beings
2. As New Households
3. As Emerging Communities

Two in the Central Pavilion
4. Across Borders
5. As One Planet

Projects range from the analytic to the conceptual, the experimental, the tested and proven, to the widely deployed. Each of these is in turn addressed through a series of themes and each one is housed in individual rooms of the Biennale buildings and grounds.

In addition to the invited participants, the 2021 Biennale also includes a series of research stations that support the Exhibition, developed by researchers from universities around the world.

The grounds of Forte Marghera will feature projects devoted to children’s play, by five architects and an architectural photographer under the subtheme: “How Will We Play Together?”.

The digital project offers videos, podcasts, images, and contributions to “peek” behind the scenes leading up to the 17th International Architecture Exhibition.

read more

The videos and images will answer five questions posed by Sarkis to all the participants:

- How can we answer the question How will we live together? today, and how do we also involve an audience that is not specialized in the issues of architecture?

- How did your team collaborate in the project and how can the role of the architect be defined as that of a convener?

- Every architectural space inspires new social arrangements and relationships: how do you represent that relationship in your project?

- How does your project relate to the scales (Among Diverse Beings, As New Households, As Emerging Communities, Across Borders, As One Planet) identified in the Exhibition theme?

- The Biennale Architettura has been postponed to 2021 due to the global health emergency still underway. It may be too soon to describe the impact of the pandemic on architecture, on the Biennale, on the projects and on the theme of the exhibition. But beyond that, what do we expect from the Biennale Architettura 2021, given the many challenges that Venice has faced in recent years at the global level?

Biennale Sneak Peek ►

From press information
© Portrait photo: Bryce Vickmark, courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia


Special Feature by UiU:

Wetland. Eco-friendly cement prototype and photographs by Farah Al Qasimi. Curators: Wael Al Awar and Kenichi Teramoto. Commissioner: Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation. Arsenale, Sale d'Armi.


- also interesting -


Awards - 17th International Architecture Exhibition

Lina Bo Bardi (1914 - 1992), the Italian architect, designer, scenographer, artist and critic naturalized as a Brazilian citizen, is the recipient of the Special Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in memoriam of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia.

Rafael Moneo - Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement

The Spanish architect, educator, critic and theoretician Rafael Moneo (* 1937 Tudela, Spain) is the recipient of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia.


Practical information

Giardini and Arsenale, opening times:
22 May - 21 November 2021
Tue - Sun 10 am - 6 pm
Last admission: 5:45 pm
Closed on Mondays

More information, tickets, education, guided tours, access, contacts, etc.:
Website La Biennale di Venezia

Organizer, contact:
La Biennale di Venezia
Settore Architettura
Ca' Giustinian
San Marco 1364/A
30124 Venezia, Italy
Website | Email | Facebook

Architecture Press Office:
infoarchitettura(at)labiennale.org
Tel. +39 041 5218 – 849/846/716

UiU Venice Biennale Special

Like for all the International Art Exhibitions since 2001, and the Architecture Biennale since 2016, Universes in Universe publishes a Special about the 17th International Architecture Exhibition.

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