Things We Love: Tour Venice’s Architecture Biennale Digitally

The Biennale Foundation in Venice is one of Europe’s most prestigious cultural institutions, having been established for over 120 years. The organisation’s exhibitions are equally revered, particularly the International Architecture Biennale, in which architecture from all around the world is on display.

Open to the public from Saturday 22 May through Sunday 21 November 2021, the Venice International Architecture Exhibition is this year titled How will we live together? “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”, says exhibition curator, architect and scholar Hashim Sarkis.

Given we are unable to travel to Venice this year, the team at Biennale Pavilions has given us the ability to experience the National Pavilions of the Architettura online. Borne of a collective sense of community, collaboration and exchange of ideas, the project enables visitors to enjoy some of the program through video tours and online streams.

Here are our top four favourites from the many events on offer:

Finland: New Standards

New Standards looks into the history and legacy of Puutalo Oy (Timber Houses Ltd.), a Finnish industrial enterprise established in 1940 to produce and promote prefabricated timber buildings. It examines the conditions affecting standardised, industrialised and manufactured building by re-visiting a forgotten chapter of wood construction in post-war Finland. Puutalo Oy was established in 1940 as part of the national response to a refugee crisis brought about by war. In less than a decade, the company became one of the largest manufacturers of prefabricated wooden buildings in the world.

Situated at the intersection of architecture and industrial design, these structures use a limited range of standard components to achieve thousands of variations, suited to different functional, climatic and cultural conditions. Today, after almost 80 years, these modest houses have shaped the experiences of thousands of inhabitants and reconfigured urban landscapes around the world.

Canada: Imposter Cities

Impostor Cities explores the ways Canada’s buildings and cities are masqueraded as other places – often the US – in film and television. Canada’s cities frame the action heroes of X-Men and Pacific Rim, the dramas of The Handmaid’s Tale and Brokeback Mountain, and even the cosmic exodus in Battlestar Galactica. A playful critique of cultural self-presentation, Impostor Cities examines movies as powerful sites of architectural experience, expression and authenticity.

United Kingdom: The Garden of Privatised Delights

The Garden of Privatised Delights highlights and examines the threats to public space, proposes new ideas for ownership and greater access and demonstrates the role that design and architecture can take in supporting a more inclusive future. The exhibition invites visitors to engage in the debate around the privatisation of public space; from the pub to the playground, common land to the garden square, and the high street to facial recognition technology.

Estonia: Square! Positively Shrinking

Square! Positively Shrinking explores the role of urban space in enhancing the future development of depopulating small towns. It features activities to improve the urban environment with a focus on the redevelopment of central squares and works to spark a debate on this lesser-known facet of urbanisation.

See more of the exhibition at Biennale Pavilions.

Images courtesy Biennale Pavilions.