Check out the A&B portal!

The most interesting pavilions of this year's Venice Biennale

19 of August '21

The capacity of this year's Venice Biennale theme - the slogan "How will we live together?" - caused once again that a large part of the pavilions drifted thematically away from the core of the exhibition and the curatorial concept of Hashim Sarkis. From the rich set of exhibitions, one can select a few that creatively and interestingly answered the question posed.

contexts of architecture

Once again it was confirmed that conceptual and simple exhibitions, often balancing on the verge of artistic installations, are the most suitable form for the biennial format. They are the ones that are able to be remembered and understood by viewers inundated with information. It is also particularly important to contextualize the architecture and embed the presented themes in a broader field of social or political issues. Expositions that treat architecture as the only topic, presenting the achievements of local architects in a traditional way (drawings, projections, information) turn out to be a dead end. This is in no way attractive, and the hermetic approach means that architecture has no chance to appear in this form in the broader discourse. It is worth remembering this, when once again bitter architects will pour out their grievances about the autonomy of the Polish pavilion and the content presented there against the architectural community (and such comments can be heard after almost every competition for the pavilion). The Biennale, like no other place, proves that a good architect will not necessarily prove himself in the role of curator, and the way he works or the media he uses for design purposes are not always attractive to the exhibition viewer.

We also invite you to read reviews of the main exhibitions of the Venice Biennale 2021.

most interesting pavilions


Co-ownership of Action: Trajectories of Elements


Curator: Kozo Kadowaki

Participants: Jo Nagasaka, Ryoko Iwase, Toshikatsu Kiuchi, Taichi Sunayama, Daisuke Motogi, Rikako Nagashima

A Japanese pavilion addressed the possibility of reusing a traditional timber-framed house slated for demolition. The pavilion features the dismantled elements of the house, cataloged and labeled in a way that allows them to be reassembled in a completely different location. Local architects designing its reuse in a new location can complete the structure, modify its functions and add elements to give it new meaning. The architecture was thus presented as the result of a chain of diverse, but coordinated, collaborative efforts. The strength of the Japanese exhibition is thus, on the one hand, to show that reuse is a technology, implementable here and now, working with matter, and involving Japanese and local architects and craftsmen in the whole process.

United Arab Emirates



Curated by Wael Al Awar and Kenichi Teramoto

The Wetland exhibition is built around a full-scale prototype of a structure that uses elements made from environmentally friendly cement created from recycled brine from industrial waste. Thus, on the one hand, it is a story about the possibilities of modern technology, on the other hand, it is an attempt to use the natural processes observed in sebhs - coastal plains, where the process of salt crystallization takes place. The authors of the exhibition call the resulting structures "vernacular architecture of the future." It is also intended to provide an answer to the increasing demand for raw materials for Portland cement production. The disrupted stability of the supply chain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic was an additional impetus for the search for local materials and construction techniques.


Platform Austria


Curators: Peter Mörtenböck and Helge Mooshammer

Participants: Center for Global Architecture; bloggers and guest discussants

The Austrian pavilion is also about technology, but in a very different way. For it is not about building techniques, but about software that drives urban services, commercialism and capitalism by treating spatial data as a resource and capital. Thus, the curators, together with invited artists, bloggers or journalists, show how digital platforms such as Uber or Airbnb influence architecture and urban development. The exhibition also presents urban typologies that are the result of such tools, which themselves generate specific and business-desired behaviors. Among them are food trucks, mute capsules and parklets. The form of the exhibition is adapted to the message and theme - we will find a multiplicity of content that describes a similar phenomenon from very individual perspectives, texts, photographs, video installations - so everything that is on Facebook or Instagram. Turning the pavilion itself into a platform, the exhibition seeks to challenge the global monopoly of digital giants in shaping the image of urban spaces.

worth seeing


LAND. MILK. HONEY. Animal Stories in Imagined Landscapes


photo by Kacper Kepinski

Curators: Dan Hasson, Iddo Ginat, Rachel Gottesman, Yonatan Cohen, Tamar Novick
Participants: Dan Hasson, Iddo Ginat, Rachel Gottesman, Yonatan Cohen, Tamar Novick, Netta Laufer, Shadi Habib Allah, Daniel Meir, Apollo Legisamo, Adam Havkin

The exhibition at the Isreal pavilion is one of the few national expositions that touch on the relationship between humans, animals and the environment, expanding the understanding of architecture and its users. The exhibition focuses on five species of animals, each symbolizing one aspect of the Levant's modernization. Case studies of cows, goats, bees, buffaloes and bats correspond in turn to issues of mechanization, territory, coexistence, expiration and post-humanist themes.



Curators/Participants: Annex (Sven Anderson / Alan Butler / David Capener / Donal Lally / Clare Lyster / Fiona McDermott)

The Irish exhibition closes with a single installation that has a strong impact on the viewer. Composed of screens, cabling, windmills, thermal cameras and an array of other devices, the structure is intended as a reminder that digitality is material and has environmental consequences. The starting point was information released by IBM in 2016, according to which as much as 90% of all data in the world was produced within two years. The rapid and exponential global growth of data is revealing itself on the landscape in the form of massive server rooms, processing centers, fiber optic networks and energy infrastructure. Bringing the materiality of the digital age to the fore, the Irish pavilion presents an installation that transforms the global network into a form of symbolic bonfire to draw attention to and change the way we understand the data infrastructure around us.




photo by Kacper Kepinski

Curator: Marianne Krogh

Contributors: Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects

Devoted to water, the Danish pavilion, like the Japanese one, made direct use of the technology that the exhibition talked about, giving credence to its message. And although the solutions presented in the exhibition are nothing innovative, the whole thing seemed to convince the viewer - yes, it is possible. The pavilion building was laced with a hydraulic infrastructure that uses water collected from its roof. A system of pumps and filters was used to force water into the interior of the pavilion, where it flows freely in streams between successive parts of the exhibition.


New Standards


photo by Uga Carmeni / press materials

Curators: Laura Berger, Philip Tidwell, Kristo Vesikansa
Contributors: Juuso Westerlund

The Finland exhibition may be interesting, especially from a Polish perspective. This is because it was dedicated to wooden "Finnish houses". The exhibition shows the social history of the Puutalo system, developed in 1940 in connection with the refugee crisis in Karelia. Mass-produced later, the structures found their way to thirty countries around the world from Isreal to Colombia and were adapted to local conditions by their inhabitants. The pavilion shows how the Finnish-designed structure became a universal design that gave shelter to people in such disparate locations.

Kacper Kępiński

The vote has already been cast