17th International Architecture Exhibition, How will we live together? inaugurated at Biennale di Venezia

Hashim Sarkis,

Andrea Avezzù, Marco Zorzanello, Jacopo Salvi,

Venice, Italy,

Venice Biennale,

May 22 marks the official opening to the public of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition at Biennale di Venezia. Speaking during the press conference held at Teatro Piccolo Arsenale, finally in person, president Roberto Cicutto focused on the figures for participation in the 2021 edition and the great collective effort that made it all possible. The curator, architect Hashim Sarkis, spoke of the issues addressed by the international exhibition and the need for a new spatial contract offering possible new ways of living together.

17th International Architecture Exhibition, How will we live together? inaugurated at Biennale di Venezia

During the press conference of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition at Biennale di Venezia, held on May 20 at Teatro Piccolo Arsenale, president Roberto Cicutto announced the figures on participation in the 2021 edition. Figures which should not be compared with the past, but viewed in light of the difficulties of the last two years.
61 national delegations, 112 participating architectural studios, and 7,000 visitors accredited for the pre-opening, along with 1,100 reporters and 5,500 tickets sold online. According to president Cicutto, the figures represent great satisfaction at being there, after a year of pandemic, not only because of the new-found freedom this represents, but for the eagerness to participate in discussion of issues of fundamental importance to ensure that the errors of the past are not repeated in the future.
The two words most commonly heard in the press conference were collaboration and communication. The great collective effort that lies behind an international event such as the Biennale is tangible, especially in such exceptional times. Collaboration and reciprocal aid at all levels, as the press conference recalled, are themselves examples of responses to the open question posed by the exhibition title, "How will we live together?".

Architect Hashim Sarkis notes that participants were not asked "how the pandemic has changed architecture and how architecture will respond". They do not seek solutions for social distancing or reorganisation of space, but present projects offering responses to the concurrent causes of the pandemic, such as climate change, social inequality, mass migration, and the profound political polarisation that has emerged in the last 5-10 years in Europe, the United States and many other parts of the world.

These are social, political and spatial issues. “ Politics and policies lay out the terms and processes for collective living, but people convene in space, and the space helps shape and transform the social contract they lay out,” writes Hashim Sarkis in his presentation of the exhibition. "What I wish to share with you and bring into the discussion,” adds the architect in the press conference, referring to the projects on display, “is how these spatial parameters, these spatial exercises, this spatial imagination, can inspire future changes in society and show us different ways of living together". The curator says that architects: “have the ability to present more inspiring answers than politics has been thus far offering in much of the world”. The reasons may be found in their ability to involve different players and experts in the process of design and construction, and their ability to imagine places and spaces in ways different from those dictated by social norms. “Architecture is the art of defining the unpredictable,” said Paulo Mendes da Rocha, and Sarkis recalls this, identifying it as one of the qualities of the projects appearing in the exhibition: resilient architectures capable of anticipating the future.

(Agnese Bifulco)

All images courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia

La Biennale di Venezia
17th International Architecture Exhibition
How will we live together?
Curator: Hashim Sarkis
Date: (preview May 20th and 21st) May 22nd 2021 – November 21st 2021
Location: Giardini and Arsenale, Venezia - Italy.

Official website of the Biennale Architettura 2021: www.labiennale.org
Official hashtag: #BiennaleArchitettura2021 #HowWillWeLiveTogether