The 17th Venice Architecture Biennale is currently unfolding and its 60 national pavilions reveal a wide range of answers to the question “How will we live together”. This year the Biennale’s role is working as a platform for inquiry and explores the pressing issues such as migration, inequality, climate change or the role of technology. Considering that “the pandemic will come and go, but issues like climate change, mass migration, inequalities, etc. will not disappear if not tackled”, Hashim Sarkis, the curator of the 17th edition of La Biennale Architettura 2021 explains the need for new spatial contracts today, in order to reach a better tomorrow. Exploring new ways to convey the architectural experience, national pavilions, invited architects and collateral events took the challenge and introduced innovative projects, overlapping scales, and fields. Christine Harrouk from Arch Daily highlights recurring qualities explored at the National Pavilions. Images by Laurian Ghinitoiu.

The usage of natural elements and the exploration of new materials that stem from the surrounding fauna and flora as well as vernacular practices, triggered by environmental challenges, underline a “return to nature” phenomenon. The UAE pavilion “Wetland” generated an alternative for cement, creating a large-scale prototype structure by exploring sea salt as a traditional, locally-sourced building material; whereas the Danish pavilion Con-nect-ed-ness, focused on the element of water and created a water cyclic system that connects people with each other and with nature, underlining that “the world is one cyclic system which we all create together”. Wood was also very central at the 2021 Venice Architecture Biennale. The U.S pavilion tackled wood-framing construction in American Architecture, creating a huge structure at the entrance of the neoclassical pavilion by Paul Andersen and Paul Preissner.

Denmark: con-nect-ed-ness by Marianne Krogh and Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects. Image by Laurian Ghinitoiu

United States of America: American Framing by Paul Andersen, Paul Preissner.

United Arab Emirates: Wetland by Wael Al Awar and Kenichi Teramoto.

The “Infinite house” by Gerardo Caballero, representing Argentina, is inspired by traditional Argentine houses, and reflects on the role collective housing, has played in the country’s history and society. The intervention actually highlights the importance of the collective rather than the individual by showcasing a home that extends beyond one’s own living space: “it is the city, the country, and even the world.” The National Pavilion of Chile, through “Testimonial Spaces” by Emilio Marín and Rodrigo Sepúlveda, presented very powerful paintings that illustrate raw stories from one of Santiago’s emblematic neighborhoods. Additionally, the Mexican pavilion raises the question of “displacements”, which arise mainly from adverse conditions such as evident inequalities, environmental deterioration, risk of disasters, and various types of violence, occurring at different scales of time and space that transcend borders and limits.

Argentina: La casa infinita by Gerardo Caballero.

Chile: Testimonial spaces by Emilio Marín, Rodrigo Sepúlveda.

Desplazamientos / Displacements by Isadora Hastings, Mauricio Rocha, Elena Tudela.

Putting the people at the center of the process, from professionals to the local residents, a majority of the projects at the 2021 Venice Biennale based their approach on engaging the community that surrounds them.

Spain: Uncertainty by Domingo Jacobo González Galván, Sofía Piñero Rivero, Andrzej Gwizdala, Fernando Herrera Pérez.

Serbia: 8th Kilometer by Moderni u Beogradu.

Italy: Comunità Resilienti – Resilient Communities by Alessandro Melis

“Future School”, the Korean Pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale Di Venezia, transforms the structure into an explorative academic facility. Curated by Hae-Won Shin, the pavilion will be on display at the Giardini from May 22nd until November 21st, 2021.