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Participants and programme announced for the 16th International Architecture Exhibition, Venice


Open to the public from Saturday 26 May to Sunday 25 November 2018, at the Giardini and the Arsenale, the 16th International Architecture Exhibition, titled FREESPACE, will be curated by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara and organized by La Biennale di Venezia chaired by Paolo Baratta. The preview will take place on 24 and 25 May, the awards ceremony and inauguration will be held on Saturday 26 May 2018.


‘With the aim of promoting the “desire” of architecture’, President Baratta explained that this edition curated by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara focuses on the question of space, the quality of space, open and free space. The fundamental parameter of reference is indicated with great clarity.
‘The desire to create FREESPACE can become the specific individual characteristic of each individual project.’

Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara have used the Manifesto FREESPACE, issued in June 2017, as a reference point for putting this Exhibition together. ‘We have found it to be a robust tool’, they stated. ‘It has acted as a measure and a guide to finding cohesion within the diversity of an exhibition of this enormous scale.’

The exhibition FREESPACE will develop from the Central Pavilion (Giardini) to the Arsenale, and will include 71 participants. The 71 participants will be joined by others gathered in two Special Sections: the first numbering, 16 participants, is titled Close Encounter, meetings with remarkable projects and will present works that originate in a reflection on well-known buildings of the past; the second which counts, 13 participants, and is titled The Practice of Teaching, will collect projects developed as part of teaching experiences.


The exhibition will also include 65 national participations in the historic pavilions at the Giardini, at the Arsenale and in the historic city centre of Venice. 7 countries will be participating in the Biennale Architettura for the first time: Antigua & Barbuda, Saudi Arabia, Guatemala, Lebanon, Mongolia, Pakistan and the Holy See (with its own pavilion located on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore).

This edition will once again feature, selected collateral events. Promoted by non-profit national and international institutions, they will present their exhibitions and initiatives in Venice during the 16th International Architecture Exhibition.


There will be two Special Projects at the Biennale Architettura 2018:
– the Forte Marghera Special Project in Mestre, curated by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, consists of an installation by architects Sami Rintala and Dagur Eggertsson, also built to host a series of events scheduled in Forte Marghera.
– the Special Project at the Applied Arts Pavilion in the Sale d’Armi in the Arsenale, reflects upon the future of social housing by presenting a fragment of the social housing estate, Robin Hood Gardens, which was designed by Alison and Peter Smithson in East London and completed in 1972. Renewed for the third consecutive year, the collaboration between La Biennale and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London has made possible this exhibition curated by Christopher Turner and Olivia Horsfall Turner.


The Biennale Architettura 2018 will be accompanied throughout its duration by a programme of conversations: Meetings on Architecture, curated by Farrell and McNamara, are an opportunity to discuss the different interpretations of the Manifesto FREESPACE and to listen to the voices of the protagonists of the Exhibition.
The program of Meetings will be complemented by contributions from the Participating Countries and a calendar of conferences organized in collaboration with international institutions such as the London School of Economics/Cities and Alfred Herrhaussen Gesselschaft, and with the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Finally, the Historical Archive of La Biennale di Venezia will present a meeting focused on architecture in the archives.
The detailed programme will be available online in the following weeks.

BIENNALE SESSIONS, the project for Universities

Following the success of previous editions, the Biennale Sessions project will be held again this year for the ninth year in a row. This initiative is dedicated by La Biennale to Institutes of Higher Learning, Research Centers, Universities, and Academies of Fine or Applied Arts. The aim is to provide a facility for self-organized three-day visits for groups of at least 50 students and teachers, with the possibility of organizing seminars in the exhibition venues offered free of charge and assistance in organizing the trip and stay. – (See document attached herein)


For the past decade, La Biennale di Venezia has been devoting increased attention to learning activities, and has developed a growing commitment to so-called “Educational” initiatives addressed to the audience of its Exhibitions’, to universities, young people, and children, from schools at all levels.

In the past two years, La Biennale’s two major exhibitions, the 15th International Architecture Exhibition and the 57th International Art Exhibition, counted a total of 108,297 participants in the Educational activities of which 65,823 were young people.

A broad Educational programme has been scheduled for 2018 as well, addressed to individuals and groups of students, children, adults, families, professionals, companies, and universities. All the initiatives aim at actively involving the participants, and are led by professional operators, carefully trained by La Biennale di Venezia. They are divided into two categories: Guided Tours and Workshop Activities. – (See document attached herein)


The official catalogue, titled FREESPACE, consists of two volumes.

Volume I, curated by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, is dedicated to the International Exhibition. Volume II is focused on the National Participations, the Special Projects and the Collateral Events.

The Exhibition Guide is conceived to accompany the visitor through the Exhibition. The graphic identity of the Biennale Architettura 2018 and the layout of the books are designed by designers David Smith and Oran Day at Atelier, Dublin. The three books are edited and published by La Biennale di Venezia.