This year’s biennial examines how architecture can address global issues such as political and religious polarization, the search for space, or simple human collaboration.
Considered as a neutral place, the Venice event offers the ground, the space and a time for dialogue.
Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena, who organized the 2016 Architecture Biennale, has created a space where he hopes Chileans and Mapuche natives can meet to discuss old land disputes.
The architecture, created by his Elemental workshop, meets the criteria stipulated by the Mapuche tradition: that it be circular with an orientation towards the east, in wood and vertical.
Aravena’s team took piles of wood of the type used to support Venetian palaces and crisscrossed them in a circular pattern to create an interior courtyard.
It was built on the side of a canal inside the Arsenal, the pointed tops of its piers visible from afar, in the hope that the Mapuche and Chileans could travel to Venice and hold a parliament or a traditional negotiation.
But the coronavirus pandemic has made that uncertain.
“Given that there has been this long history of conflict between the Chileans and the Mapuche, we thought why not take back the old tradition of talks to negotiate and discuss,” says Aravena.
“He was supposed to welcome the Chileans and Mapuche negotiating here, we don’t know if that will happen or not, but in any case these logs are going back to Chile, to build this place to parley.”
Showcase of life beyond earth
And while some are trying to solve problems on Earth, others have chosen to aim for the stars, or rather the moon.
The Life Beyond Earth project presents a lunar village that overcomes the constraints of an extreme environment using technological advancements currently available or in development.
The project developed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and the European Space Agency aims to show that global cooperation between several nations and several partners to combine their expertise towards a common goal is indeed possible.
They estimate that the Lunar Village could be created in just five years.
“I am optimistic by heart, the Biennale has been organized with optimism, around this question of how to live together,” says Colin Koop, design partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.
“What we would like to do with this particular part of the exhibition is to show that it is possible to build a collaborative future that focuses on all these shared values and concern for the planet, a kind of knowledge that there are more things that unite us rather than dividing us – biologically, culturally, politically, these things can be expressed in a new kind of way of life, a new kind of regulation. “
But before embarking on a shuttle to the moon, the British pavilion has chosen to explore how we will live together with the increasing privatization of public spaces.
The project titled “The Privatized Garden of Earthly Delights” transformed the pavilion into a series of threatened public spaces that can be reinvented and revitalized, such as the Garden Square or the famous British pub.
Another British project shows how Muslim communities were able to use different spaces to create mosques.
“ Three British Mosques ” on display
“Three British Mosques” displays reproductions of three mosques created in a former church and synagogue, a pub and a semi-detached house.
In Britain anyone can open a mosque and the creation of these spaces are popular and crowd-funded projects by communities coming together to create a common place of worship.
“What you see in these buildings is how these communities shape the space and create their own visual language, their own aesthetics, their own architecture, but they also continuously aspire to create better quality buildings, more larger and more established, ”explains Shahed Saleem, co-curator of the“ Three British Mosques ”project.
The 17th edition of the Architecture Biennale also dedicated part of the exhibition to children, in a project entitled “How will we play together?”.
Five international architects have designed an installation on display at Forte Marghera which is open to the public.
For Alessandra Cianchetta, who designed the “Field of Lines” project, the space is open to interpretation, whether by children or adults.
“It’s not really a playground but people can play and make up the rules for these new games that aren’t here yet,” she says.
“I think the main thing is not to give preconceived rules but to ask people to invent these rules.”
The 17th International Architecture Exhibition opens on May 22 after a one-year pandemic delay and will run until November 21, 2021.