In our Home: the Albanian Pavilion at the 17th Architecture Biennale

Fiona Mali, Irola Andoni, Malvina Ferra, Rudina Breçani,

Andrea Avezzù,

Venice, Italy,

Biennale di Venezia,

Venice Biennale,

The Albanian Pavilion at the 17th Architecture Exhibition at La Biennale di Venezia offers an intriguing response to the question “How will we live together?” With our neighbours, of course! And so the team of curators looks at relationships among neighbours, which can profoundly affect our quality of life, in their pavilion.

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In our Home: the Albanian Pavilion at the 17th Architecture Biennale

In Our Home - On Neighbours and Togetherness is the project representing Albania at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition at La Biennale di Venezia. This is the sixth time Albania has participated in the show, and its team of curators made up of four young female architects, Fiona Mali, Irola Andoni, Malvina Ferra, and Rudina Breçani, focuses on a crucial aspect of our lives: our neighbourhoods.

The neighbourhood is an important social link in that practically all human beings live beside other human beings, especially in our increasingly dense cities.

This bond depends on each and everyone’s willingness to communicate with a stranger. But not just any stranger, explain the curators: “ a stranger that has a lot in common with us, a stranger who lives just a few steps away. Together with these strangers, we shape the identity of our apartment buildings, our neighbourhoods, our city. Depending on this bond, our perception of life in our home can completely change.” An experience anybody who has lived with neighbours can understand, for better or for worse!

Hence the idea of translating the concept into an installation based on the traditional Albanian home, which was centred around one room: the living room, referred to in Albania as the guest room (dhoma and pritjes), where the inhabitants spent time with people who were not family members, often their neighbours: a space specifically intended for socialising with others.

In this sense, the Albanian Pavilion follows the same layout of many of the others at the 2021 Biennale, digging into the past to address the future: why is knowing our neighbours no longer the norm? Why don’t we live in open homes anymore? What is the role of architecture in fostering neighbourliness? 

In Our Home - On Neighbours and Togetherness seeks answers for these questions in an attempt to see architecture as a crucial element for encouraging or discouraging neighbourliness. It does this with contributions from experts in urban planning, architectural design, sociology, urban anthropology, philosophy and journalism. And, of course, with the installation in the Arsenale, as simple as it is effective.

The three abstract apartments in the installation not only share the obvious walls, but secretly share a space that can only come to life if the neighbours are willing to go inside the space and give it a meaning, which can often change, depending on the neighbours and how they feel at the time.

The interiors of the apartments become the exterior of the pavilion, visually demarcating a family home environment which, on closer examination, may be seen to allude to the typical late-twentieth-century Albanian apartment. And in the middle is an evocation of the mystic room where we can meet with the neighbours. 

By doing so, in the conviction that the quality of our future lives depends first of all on our collective consciousness, the Albanian pavilion symbolically draws our attention to what might be found beyond the walls of our apartment. Because this is how we will live together.

Christiane Bürklein

Albanian Pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia

In Our Home - On Neighbours and Togetherness

Commissioner: Elva Margariti, Minister of Culture of the Republic of Albania

Curators/Exhibitors: Fiona Mali, Irola Andoni, Malvina Ferra, Rudina Breçani 

22 May - 23 November 2021

Arsenale, Venice, Italy

Images: Courtesy La Biennale - Andrea Avezzù

Find out more: http://www.inourhome.al/

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