The world’s most prestigious architecture event, the Venice Architecture Biennale, opens on Saturday (22nd May). A six-month show, it explores the question of coexistence in a post-pandemic world.
The 17th International Architecture Exhibition “How will we live together?”, postponed from last year, reflects on the future and the challenges it may hold.
Curator Hashim Sarkis says, “The hardest question is how to resolve the problems that led us to the pandemic. How are we going to solve climate change, poverty, the huge political differences between right and left,” he told AFP.
Collective spaces and solidarity
Sarkis is dean of MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning, and he believes the city of the future will be born from the need to share collective spaces. He also envisages the need to consume less and create — or encourage — new forms of solidarity.
There would be “spaces to assemble, where people pass by, seeing the daily life of others… places where economic, ethnic differences are revealed”, he said. He hopes “architecture can help transform” society, through the use and design of spaces.
New and diverse generation of architects
Sarkis brings together 112 architects and studios for the biennale. The majority of them are there for the first time and aged between 35 and 55.
“I looked everywhere for the solutions that were most innovative and creative. That was my criteria to choose the participants. It’s not a question of stars,” Sarkis said.
There are 63 national pavilions among the vast gardens on the eastern edge of Venice, as well as within the immense halls of the Arsenal, and some areas of the city’s historic centre.
The Venice Biennale poses the question whether the post-pandemic age is the start of a new era or just a passing phase.
Late architect Lina Bo Bardi recognised
The Biennale will award its Special Golden Lion to the late architect Lina Bo Bardi (1914-1992). An Italian-Brazilian modernist, Bardi designed Sao Paolo’s Museum of Art.
Sarkis has said Bardi’s work best illustrates the themes covered in the 2021 exhibition. “She exemplifies perseverance in difficult times, whether wars, political conflicts or immigration, and her ability to remain creative, generous and optimistic at all times,” he said at a press conference in April.
The living architect awarded this year with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement is Spanish architect Rafael Moneo, 84.