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Architekturbiennale, Venedig

See You in Venice

“How will we live together?” this year’s director, Hashim Sarkis, asks the 114 architects, landscape architects, designers and artists who are represented with their works at various locations throughout the city. Sarkis is serious about his motto, which may seem a bit generic at first. The MIT professor and architect with studios in Boston and Beirut moves between the worlds of the Middle East and the USA: “We need a new spatial contract. In the context of widening political divides and growing economic inequalities, we call on architects to imagine spaces in which we can generously live together. The emphasis lies on togetherness.”

In 1996, the motto chosen by then-director Hans Hollein was “Sensing the future − the architect as seismograph”. For Sarkis, this observational, documentary-based stance is no longer sufficient. “In effect, the Biennale Architettura 2021 asserts the vital role of the architect as both cordial convener and custodian of the spatial contract.”

In its scope, the overall program is equal to those of previous years: 63 national pavilions will be represented, including Grenada, Iraq, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan, all of which will participate for the first time. From 23 July until 1 August, the International Festival of Contemporary Dance will perform short, sketchy choreographies to accompany the exhibition in the Arsenale.

The postponement of the Biennale has given participants significantly more time than in previous years. Indeed, a few curators have worked new experiences from the COVID-19 crisis into their concepts. Perhaps the one-year rest period will enable the Venice Biennale in Architecture to rediscover its former relevance.

At the opening ceremony on 22 May, Rome-born architect Lina Bo Bardi (1914-1992), who eventually emigrated to Brazil, will be distinguished in memoriam with the Special Golden Lion for her life’s work. See you in Venice!

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