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LA 17. International Architecture Exhibition curated by Hashim Sarkis depicts the world in the near future. A path rich of interpretations from the most suggestive to the most practical one, always posing the same question: How Will We Live Together?



The decision to ask such question was born before the recent pandemic and is due to the global community’s inability to face the quick and irreversible environmental changes. Architecture is seen a tool to start a dialogue on the role of public spaces, materials and techniques for construction and re-construction. “With politics continuously dividing and isolating us, we can offer alternative ways of living through architecture,” says Hashim Sarkim, professor at MIT, the most prestigious research university in the world, and curator of this 17th exhibition. He was chosen by the new Biennale di Venezia’s president, Roberto Ciccutto, who has taken up his role at a particularly challenging time, considering the recent public health emergency that has resulted in one year of forced break that has however been productively used to enhance the exhibition’s contents, collaborations and exhibitors. This edition comes back even more strongly to the basic message shared by the previous numbers: It is the job of the architect to think how we inhabit and will inhabit Earth.



“The one thing that has touched me the most during this first year as president has been to  realise the remarkable point of observation that Biennale offers to us. A geopolitical map of the world that brings together the most diverse realities in politics, economics and the human condition as depicted by all the artists who congregate in Venice from so many different places in the world. And Architecture is undoubtedly the discipline that can affect the map in the most direct way by perceiving the critical elements and grasping the positive aspects. There are some who don’t think of Architecture as an art, or at most define it as an ‘applied art.’ However, Architecture, as all other artistic expressions, finds its reason of being precisely in its deep connection to life and society, when through the creative synthesis it manages to represent all aspects of human living.”

With such declaration, it is no surprise that more and more scientists and artists are taking part. 

The exhibition this year will display the works of 112 participants from 46 different countries, with a higher attendance from African, Latin American and Asian countries and equal share of women and men. The exhibition is divided in five thematic areas, three at Arsenale and two at the Padiglione Centrale (central pavilion): Among Diverse Beings, As New Households, As Emerging Communities, Across Borders and As One Planet.
As always, there will be collateral exhibitions outside of the main competition. Just to name a few, in Forte Maghera five international architects will bring to life How Will We Play Together?, a game open to all residents and visitors. Studio Other Spacesfounded by Olafur Eliasson and Sebastian Behmann will present Future Assembly, a collective display with contributions by all exhibitors. At Giardini, the installation Sport Platform will address the questions How will we play sports together? In Arsenale, Vuslat Foundation will host a special event to present the installation by Giuseppe Penone. 
“The visible consequences of climatic change on the built-up environment’” said Sarkis, “are highlighting the responsibilities of architecture towards this existential crisis and have led to architects rethinking their vocation.”

We will therefore have to face this challenge by changing, re-evaluating and incorporating local technologies, creating spaces to protect the natural environments, involving climatic engineering with all its pros and cons, and using Architecture to envision alternative climatic futures. We will have to reflect on what “To live Together” really means when people, animals, plants, water and air all share the same little planet. According to Sarkis, it will not be up to virologists, economists or environmentalists to save us, let alone politicians, but architects, “the master builders who will guarantee us a future”.

17th International Architecture Exhibition
How will we live together?
22 May > 21 November 2021