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Venice Architecture Biennale

FREESPACE what’s on -Biennale Architettura 2018


With over 71 invited participants, 63 national pavillions, 16 reinterpretations & 13 collected teaching experiences, devised and curated for the first time by two leading Irish architects, Freespace is a once in a generation opportunity to visit an Irish led interrogation on the question of space, the quality of space, as well as open and free space which have such a fundamental role in the world we occupy.

Currently running until Sunday 25 November 2018, at the Giardini and the Arsenale, the 16th International Architecture Exhibition – Freespace, has been curated by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara and organized by La Biennale di Venezia chaired by Paolo Baratta.


Freespace focuses on the question of space, the quality of space, open and free space.

Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara disseminated the Manifesto Freespace,  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 extends from the Central Pavilion (Giardini) to the Arsenale, to include 71 participants. The 71 participants will be joined by others gathered in two Special Sections: the first with 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 including 13 participants is titled The Practice of Teaching, and collects projects developed as part of teaching experiences.


The exhibition also includes 65 national participations in the historic pavilions at the Giardini, at the Arsenale and in the historic city centre of Venice. 7 countries participate 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).


There are 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 is 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.

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.


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.


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.