The 17th International Architecture Exhibition of Venice

When: from May 23rd to November 29th, 2020 (pre-opening May 21st and 22nd).

Where: at the Giardini and the Arsenale, plus other venues in Venice. See the complete map here:

President: Paolo Baratta, engineer and economist, ex-minister for privatizations of the Italian government.

Curator of the 2020 edition: Hashim Sarkis. Lebanese by birth, American by professional education, he holds a studio in Beirut and is the MIT’s School of Architecture dean.
One of Sarkis’ most interesting projects is the Houses for the Fishermen of Tyre, an area of Lebanon which has been suffering housing shortage and growing economic difficulties.

Title: How will we live together?

Main topics:

Cooperation – Sarkis spurs architects to imagine spaces where we might better live together. He invites them to achieve this by engaging other professionals, such as artists, builders, craftspeople, “…politicians, journalists, social scientists, and everyday citizens.”

Our planet is facing rapid and radical changes and multiple difficulties: providing architectural solutions to the problem caused by global warming, mass migrations, spaces and raw materials dwindling, growing socio-economic disparities, is a fundamental aim.

Science – On the other side we must consider the results achieved by genetic experimentation, and the impact of the digital world on the physical, through artificial intelligence and automation. Contemporary architecture must exploit all these scientific novelties to improve our life together developing new projects.

Together – like human beings, beyond our preponderant individuality, we grow learning to connect to each other, and we also how to live with all the other species. We are bound to stay together in new houses, that must express our dignity and identity, keeping in mind the concepts of inclusion and social equity. All in all, we are committed to find solutions for the survival of our planet, involving man, animals and plants.

Projects – Director Paolo Baratta focuses on the enormous difference between those parts of the world where housing means shelter and satisfying basic needs, and other areas where, because of all the global changes, housing has become obsolete and needs to be re-designed. We need real projects, not mere theories, to show that architecture is seriously at work to find valid solutions to our ‘living together’.

Future – Hashim Sarkis’ warning is clear: future is at the doors, or, better, future is now! Architects must think and work hard with planning capacity to face present and future issues: ‘We look forward to the collective architectural imagination to meet this momentous occasion with creativity and courage.’

USA PAVILION – Paul Anderson and Paul Preissner are the curators of the American pavilion. ‘American Framing’ will focus on wooden houses built with simple two-by-four timbers. They state that in America “The richest and poorest people live in houses that were built the same way.” George Washington Snow’s ‘Balloon Warehouse’ pioneered prefabricated frame building, labeled in 1832 as ‘Chicago Construction’. Anderson and Preissner add that even John F. Kennedy lived in a wood-framed house, and so does today Beyoncé.

FINLAND PAVILION – Similar theme for the Finnish Pavilion. During the 1940s, when more than the 10 percent of the population had to leave their homes, the Puutalo consortium of timber manufacturers refused the idea of temporary camps in favor permanent wooden housing designed by prominent Finnish architects. The project was successfully exported to 50 more countries, with the construction of 300,000 homes, many of them still in use today. The three American-Finnish curators, Laura Berger, Philip Tidwell and Kristo Vesikansa all work for Aalto University, Helsinki.

GERMAN PAVILION – we are in the year 2038, and all the bad crises we had to face then, in the 2020s, were solved! Everything ended up okay, as technology and architects successfully answered “the great questions of our time” by focusing on pragmatic solutions, rather than coming up with more questions. The curators of this future-oriented concept are Arno Brandlhuber, Olaf Grawert, Nikolaus Hirsch and Christopher Roth.

RUSSIAN PAVILION – opened to the public in 1914, the Russian Pavilion at Giardini of the Venice Biennale was conceived to represent quintessential Russian culture. For the Venice Architecture Biennale 2020, the commissioner, Teresa Iarocci Mavica, the curator, Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli invite young Russian architects and multidisciplinary collectives to develop a project for the reconstruction of the Pavilion The Pavilion will stage live the transformation project, a temporary architectural office and the in-progress working site. In balance between fiction and reality the Pavilion will offer an immersive look into the mechanisms of a project in the making.

AUSTRALIAN PAVILION – Australia’s 2020 Venice pavilion to evoke Country and connections
between indigenous cultures across Australia and the South Pacific. The exhibition will “highlight the potential of architecture to build cultural understanding between first nations peoples and others with a focus on Australia and our Pacific Island neighbors.” Architects Tristan Wong and Jefa Greenaway, both of Victoria, have been named as creative directors for 2020. Their proposal, titled In Between, will be delivered in collaboration with anthropologist Elizabeth Grant, writer/producer Tim Ross, designer Aaron Puls and architecture graduate Jordyn Milliken.

ITALIAN PAVILION – Architect Alessandro Melis is the new curator of the Italian Pavilion in the Arsenale, The buildings of the Tese delle Vergini have been restored in stages since 2001 to become a 3850 sqm complex with exhibition spaces and multi-purpose spaces which traditionally also host the Chinese Pavilion and the Biennale’s educational activities. This issue focuses on housing in Italy’s inland territories and concluding with the identification of three key issues for the future: mobility, climate change and architecture.