Actually it should have been opened long ago, the 17th Biennale di Venezia for Architecture. But like many other exhibitions, it had to be postponed for well-known reasons. But now it is definitely scheduled to open its doors on Saturday, August 29, and to close again on November 29, 2020 after three months. This year it is curated by Hashim Sarkis and will take place as usual in the Giardini and the Arsenale. This year’s motto is “How will we live together?”

The objectives of the Biennale di Venezia for Architecture

 “There has been a constant theme over the years – said Paolo Baratta, president of La Biennale die Venezia – the social advantages which Architecture can catalyze. As we have often said, Architecture makes us more aware individuals; it helps us become citizens, not just consumers; it stimulates us to consider the indirect effects of our actions; it helps us understand more fully the importance of public goods and of free goods. It helps us develop a more all-around vision of welfare. … And lastly, Architecture helps us to conserve resources and to give ourselves a modicum of happiness.” 

And he continues:

 “In its broad-ranging gaze, the Exhibition curated by Hashim Sarkis captures the structural problems of contemporary society. He observes – and we with him – that, in every corner of the world, phenomena of intense change are underway; they all differ but what they share is a need for important “adjustments” in living conditions. Thus, the gaze of the curator and the Exhibition ranges even further afield. Architecture becomes the reference point of a vast interdisciplinary commitment and of a vast cultural and political commitment.” 

Barrata concludes:

 “And we, once again – Paolo Baratta concludes – wonder about the goals of an Exhibition like the Biennale. Whom does it address? We have often said that the Exhibition strives to be an instrument of knowledge and dialogue for insiders of the world of architecture. But an exhibition is also a “call” to the public. A call to become visitors, to become attentive visitors, to become direct witnesses, eye witnesses.”

How will we live together?

 “We need a new spatial contract.” said Hashim Sarkis, the curator of the 17th edition of the Biennale of Architecture 2020. Against the background of growing political divides and increasing economic inequalities, the exhibitors challenged the architects to imagine spaces in which people could live together on a generous scale. He said he had encouraged the architects invited to take part in the Biennale of Architecture 2020 to involve other professional and interest groups – artists, builders and craftsmen, but also politicians, journalists, social scientists and citizens of everyday life.

The question “How will we live together?” is also a social and political question as well as a spatial one. Every generation asks it and answers it differently. More recently, the rapid change in social norms, growing political polarisation, climate change and huge global inequalities have led us to ask this question more urgently and at different levels than before.

The international exhibition offers much

The Exhibition will be articulated between the Central Pavilion at the Giardini, the Arsenale, and Forte Marghera, including 114 participants in competition coming from 46 countries with increased representation from Africa, Latin America, and Asia. In addition to the invited participants, the Biennale Architettura 2020 also includes Stations+Cohabitats, researchers out of competition on the themes of the Exhibition and developed by universities around the world. 

Organised in five scales between the Arsenale and the Central Pavilion at the Giardini, the Exhibition also presents large installations connected to one of the five scales, which will be placed in the external spaces of the Arsenale and the Giardini. “How will we play together?” is the project devoted to children’s play at Forte Marghera, presented by five architects and an architectural photographer.

National Participation

The National Participations are 65, in the historic Pavilions at the Giardini, at the Arsenale and in the historic city centre of Venice. Three are participating for the first time at the Biennale Architettura: Grenada, Iraq and Uzbekistan. 

From my own experience I can say that a visit to the Architecture Biennale is definitely worthwhile. Apart from the interesting exhibitions, the atmosphere in Venice during the event is also extremely stimulating; many events take place all over the city. So here are a few photos from my visit in 2014.