Building Bridges in Venice

This year’s Architecture Biennale focuses on decolonization and decarbonation. Ironically, as curator Davide Tommaso Ferrando points out, this exhibition is held by an institution that colonizes the city of Venice. Ferrando refers to the fourth Unfolding Pavilion, “Open Giardini,” an unofficial contribution to the biennale. Together with this year’s Austrian pavilion, “Open Giardini” offers a refreshing critique, questioning the role of the institution and its link to the few remaining inhabitants of the lagoon, who are even fewer in numbers when compared to tourists.

Since 2016, the Unfolding Pavilion is an exhibition and editorial project by Davide Tommaso Ferrando and Daniel Tudur Munteanu. In past years, it popped up during the vernissage in previously inaccessible but architecturally significant spaces, such as Ignazio Gardella’s Casa alle Zattere or Gino Valle’s Giudecca Social Housing. This year, it raises attention to the fact that the biennale is a clear case of private expropriation of public territory by an institution that has colonized Venice for the last 100 years. Through a series of red site-specific interventions, the pavilion raises awareness for the Giardini’s current and future uses.

Similarly, “Partecipazione/Beteiligung,” curated by AKT and Viennese architect Hermann Czech, is a socially relevant conversion of the Austrian pavilion that presents a critical discourse on the role of the biennale for Venice. With the slogan “Architecture is not for architects, but for the public,” the curators wanted to return part of the pavilion to local residents. Presenting the history of the Giardini and the relationship between the biennale and Venice over time, they exhibit an architectural proposition. To engage in a close exchange with the adjacent residential neighborhood, the project proposed to split the Austrian pavilion in two: while the western half would remain open only to paying visitors, the eastern half would be freely accessible from the city via a new entrance. But the city did not allow the project to go forward: Visitors can only see a partially realized bridge between the Giardini and the city. 



Laboratory of the Future, 18th Venice Architecture Biennale, Venice



curated by Lesley Lokko

Unfolding Pavilion “Open Giardini”

curated by Davide Tommaso Ferrando

Austrian Pavilion “Partecipazione/Beteiligung”

curated by AKT and Hermann Czech