Venice Biennale 2020 to explore ‘How will we live together?’

Hashim Sarkis, the curator of the 2020 Venice Architecture Biennale, has announced the theme of the exhibition – “How will we live together?”

“We need a new spatial contract,” he said. “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: together as human beings who, despite our increasing individuality, yearn to connect with one another and with other species across digital and real space; together as new households looking for more diverse and dignified spaces for inhabitation; together as emerging communities that demand equity, inclusion and spatial identity; together across political borders to imagine new geographies of association; and together as a planet facing crises that require global action for us to continue living at all.”

Invited participating architects will be encouraged to engage with other professions, such as artists, builders, craftspeople, politicians, journalists, social scientists and everyday citizens in an effort to assert “the overlooked role of the architect as both cordial convener and custodian of the spatial contract.”

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Participants will also be asked to highlight aspects of the theme that are uniquely architectural. “Architecture inspires the ways we live together,” Sarkis said.

Curators of participating national pavilions will be asked to respond to the sub themes of the exhibition such as inclusive social housing and connective urban tissue.

In announcing the theme, Sarkis also noted that 2020 will be a milestone year with many nations having devised “vision 2020” strategies.

“The year is upon us,” he said. “We look to the collective architectural imagination to meet this momentous occasion with creativity and courage.”

Paolo Baratta, president of the Venice Biennale, said, “Living together means first and foremost awareness of potential crises and old and new problems that do not get appropriate solutions, nor often appropriate attention.

“We expect from Hashim Sarkis’ research and from the individual participating countries a number of examples that besides informing us on the different realities and the current trends and conflicts, can let us imagine a world at work to face those issues, and in particular a world of architecture committed to thinking, imagining and realising new solutions.”

Hashim Sarkis was appointed curator of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition on 18 December 2018. He is the principal architect of Hashim Sarkis Studios, based in Boston and Beirut, and the dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at the Massachusetts institute of Technology.

He holds a PhD in architecture from Harvard University and has authored a number of books.

Sarkis has participated in the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2014 as part of the US pavilion and in 2010 in the Albanian pavilion. In 2016, he was a member of the international jury for the biennale.

“With Hashim Sarkis, La Biennale has provided itself with a curator who is particularly aware of the topics and criticalities which the various contrasting realities of today’s society pose for our living space,” Baratta said.

The 17th International Architecture Exhibition will be held from 23 May to 29 November 2020.

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