Architecture Events Exhibition Installation

11 Asian and Middle Eastern pavilions at the Venice Biennale 2021

May 24, 2021

The 17th International Architecture Exhibition at Venice Biennale kicked off on May 22 and will run through November 21, 2021. Curated by Lebanese architect, academic, and researcher Hashim Sarkis, the international exhibition includes works by 112 participants from 46 countries with a greater representation from Africa, Latin America and Asia and with a large representation of women.  Three countries are participating for the first time at the Biennale Architecture: Grenada, Iraq and the Republic of Uzbekistan.  “In a context of acute political divisions and growing economic inequalities, we ask architects to imagine spaces in which we can live generously together, ” commented Sarkis, referring to the theme of this year’s exhibition titled “How will we live together?”. The pavilions will be showcased at the Giardini, the Arsenale and Forte Marghera.

The exhibition is organised in five scales (or thematic areas) – three are set up in the Arsenale and two in the Central Pavilion: Among Diverse Beings, As New Households, As Emerging Communities, Across Borders and As One Planet. Part of the exhibition is also How will we play together?, a contribution of five participating international architects, authors of a project dedicated to the game set up in Forte Marghera and open to visitors.

How Will We Play Together? installation at the 17th Venice Biennale

How will we play sport together? dedicated to the theme of sport is a special event of the Vuslat Foundation , which proposes an installation by Giuseppe Penone in the Arsenale.

The Venice Biennale and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London present for the fifth consecutive year the Special Project at the Pavilion of Applied Arts (Arsenale, Sale d’Armi A) entitled Three British Mosques. In collaboration with architect Shahed Saleem, the exhibition looks at the DIY and often undocumented world of mosques adapted for this use. 

This edition also includes a series of out of competition entries :

Stations + Co-Habitats, research on the five scales and related case studies developed by researchers from universities around the world (Architectural Association, American University of Beirut, The Bartlett, Columbia University, The Cooper Union, ETH Zürich, Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development EiABC, ETSAM – Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid, Harvard University, Hong Kong University, Iuav University of Venice, KIT Karlsruhe, KU Leuven, Rice University and the Venice Lab, a consortium of research groups of MIT); the special participation of the Israeli artist Michal Rovner in the Central Pavilion; the exhibition in the Studio Other Spaces exhibition (represented by Olafur Eliasson and Sebastian Behmann) presenting Future Assembly with contributions from all participants; an outdoor installation at the Giardini.

Here are 10 pavilions from Asia and the Middle East that are showcasing the new dynamics of public spaces and their relationship with people through thought-provoking concepts:


Hawker Centre; photo: Tomohisa Miyauchi

Titled “To Gather: the Architecture of Relationships”, the Singapore pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, showcases different ways Singaporeans share public spaces. The pavilion has been curated by the faculty of architecture at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

Responding to the theme of ‘How Will We Live Together”, the National University of Singapore introduces foreign visitors to the unique Singaporean style of living and gathering by presenting different spatial typologies across the country. The pavilion also explores the country’s diverse urban context and different structural scales, and the different ways in which they contribute to the residents’ social life.

Housing and Development Board apartment block void decks; photo: Open Narrative

As we leverage architecture and urban design to address new global challenges, it is important to continue supporting and facilitating community participation in the design of public spaces. Collectively, public spaces have a significant impact on our quality of life, helping us to form connections, share memories, values, and a sense of place in which we call home.”

Yap Lay Bee, Singapore Pavilion Co-Commissioner and URA Group Director

Inspired by the spatial typology of local hawker centres – one of the most iconic communal spaces in the city-state – the exhibition will include 16 architecture, art, and design projects, presented on 16 round tables – a common fixture at the hawker centres – across the pavilion. Four universal themes will cover the projects: Communing Relationships, Framing Relationships, Uncovering Relationships, and Imagining Relationships. The displayed projects will present the works of architects, designers, town councils, nonprofit organisations, and citizens, and how they collectively imagine an improved built environment, in light of the restrictions due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic this past year. 

Hawker Centre; photo: Open Narrative

As a city-state that has experienced rapid urbanisation since its independence, Singapore has, over time, forged our own style of high-density living, and places of community gathering in our parks, hawker centres, void decks, and sky gardens. The pandemic and its restrictions on global travel have brought everyone closer together, with a deeper appreciation for our families and communities.”

Mark Wee, Pavilion Co-Commissioner and Executive Director of DesignSingapore Council


The Taiwanese pavilion dives deeper into the topic of migration titled Primitive Migration from/to Taiwan. Commissioned by the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts (NTMoFA) and curatorial teams Divooe Zein Architects and Double-Grass International Co., the pavilion is presented to visitors through an immersive exhibition at Palazzo delle Prigioni.

According to the curatorial team, the Portuguese sailors once sailed past Taiwan calling it “Ilha Formosa” (Formosa island in Portuguese), a name that has since remained. The exhibition explores the profound interaction between Taiwan’s rich geological and ecological appearance, as well as its ethnically diverse cultures that have made the island a unique place to inhabit. For the biennale, the architectural proposition seeks to ask how Taiwan, with a current population of around 23 million, can maintain its unique way of living and its architectural culture while surrounded on all fronts by mountains, forests and oceans.

The presentation is unveiled through five existing architectural projects in Taiwan that explore the effects of human and nature interaction: Siu Siu – Lab of Primitive Sense, Nature Monastery in Bali, Semi-ecosphere glasshouse for isolation and meditation, Lab of Primitive Sense, and The Forest BIG. The architectural design provides viewers with a tranquil environment that echoes the history of Venice.

Additionally, the exhibition brings together audiovisual and olfactory elements by collaborating with Peruvian film director Mauricio Freyre to produce conceptual images, and Äi Äi Illum Lab – a studio that experiments with natural scents and curates interactive olfactory exhibitions to stimulate the visitors’ five senses.

Courtesy Taiwan Pavilion at the 2021 Venice Biennale


Photo: Ugo Carmeni

Titled “Future Schools”, the Korean Pavilion looks at learning spaces that have been one of the most affected public spaces around the world due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Here, the concept transforms the structure into an explorative academic facility. Curated by Hae-Won Shin, the pavilion will be on display at the Giardini.

Kitchen in the Future School; photo: Ugo Carmeni

The concept of Future Schools responds to the functional demands of society in tandem with other urgent global issues such as migration, climate change, and technological advancements. The pavilion aims to establish new networks and act as a catalyst for cooperative engagement around these issues. The school investigates online workshops, roundtables, studios, installations, screenings, and dissolves the boundaries between domestic, public, and educational spaces. 

A house, a well and a garden – a shared space for gathering, learning, rest and contemplation. This was the fundamental concept behind Future Schools’ occupation of the Korean Pavilion. This is not a space for consumption, but a space for living, for exchanges and for discussion.”

Hae-Won Shin, Pavilion Curator

Inspired by the architecture of traditional Korean houses, the existing brick structure of the pavilion is transformed into a domestic space with handmade hanji paper floors. The kitchen allows participants to access drinking water and make tea using the existing pavilion pipes, served in Jeju Onggi cups. The “Process Wall” displays 235 printed A4 tiles of Future School’s previous workshops and conversations.

Paper Room; photo: Ugo Carmeni

Artist and landscape architect Ah-Yeon Kim installed a circular floor as a symbolic assembly space made from dried reeds. The roof was also included in the pavilion’s planning, transforming it into a public space for gathering. The overall programme features more than 50 participating projects that explore issues such as cooling urban environments and the future of schools, so as to be able to propose innovative spatial interventions.

  • Commissioner: Arts Council Korea (ARKO)
  • Curator: Hae-Won Shin
  • Deputy Curator: Namwoo Bae
  • Assistant Curators: Ji Yoon Ahn and Eunjee Choe
  • Spatial Design: Ryual Son and Christian Schweitzer
  • Graphic Design: Chris Ro


The Japanese house before dismantling; photo: Jan Vravonsky

The Japanese Pavilion at the 2021 Venice Biennale addresses mass consumption and reusability. For this year’s edition of the Venice Biennale, the Japan Pavilion invites visitors to reflect on the movement of goods fuelling mass consumption and rethink the concept of sustainability and reuse in architecture. Titled Co-ownership of Action: Trajectories of Elements, the project curated by Kadowaki Kozo involves dismantling an old wooden postwar Japanese house and transporting it to Venice to be reconstructed in a new configuration with the addition of modern materials. The house is one of the many in Japan that have outlived their usefulness and await demolition due to the country’s declining population. The exhibition exemplifies how old materials could be given an entirely new existence by putting the current movement of goods in the service of reuse rather than consumption.

Old wood; photo: Schemata Architects

The deconstruction of the house unearthed several strata of renovations and expansions, with elements ranging from handmade to mass-produced, which trace some of the workings of Japan’s construction industry. These layers show how the current project is just one in a series of rewritings in the house’s history. Employing the skills and ideas of local and Japanese artisans, the dismantled elements of the house have been repurposed into objects that furnish the Japan Pavilion’s garden, while unused parts will be on display inside the pavilion. After the exhibition, the house will be repurposed yet again in the form of a community facility for residents of an apartment complex on the outskirts of Oslo.

Kadowaki Kozo, curator, Japan Pavilion; photo: Shinto Takeshi
  • Commissioner: The Japan Foundation (JF)
  • Curator: Kozo Kadowaki
  • Architects: Jo Nagasaka, Ryoko Iwase, Toshikatsu Kiuchi, Taichi Sunayama, Daisuke Motogi
  • Designer: Rikako Nagashima
  • Researchers: Norimasa Aoyagi, Aya Hiwatashi, Naoyuki Matsumoto, Tetsu Makino, Building System Design Laboratory at Meiji University (Kozo Kadowaki, Makoto Isono, Kimihito Ito)
  • Editor: Jiro Iio
  • Advisor: Kayoko Ota
  • Photo: Jan Vranovský
  • Video: Hirofumi Nakamoto
  • Exhibition design: Schemata Architects (Jo Nagasaka, Sanako Osawa , Yuhei Yagi), Studio IWASE Architecture+Landscape (Ryoko Iwase, Kaoru Endo, Musashi Makiyama), sunayama studio+Toshikatsu Kiuchi Architect (Taichi Sunayama, Toshikatsu Kiuchi, Risako Okuizumi, Takuma
  • Shiozaki, Kei Machida, Zu Architects), DDAA (D aisuke Motogi, Riku Murai)
  • Graphic designL village® (Rikako Nagashima, Kohei Kawaminami, Hiroyuki Inada)
  • Structural engineering: TECTONICA (Yoshinori Suzuki, Kakeru Tsuruta) / Mitsuhiro Kanada Studio at Tokyo University of the Arts (Mitsuhiro Kanada), yasuhirokaneda STRUCTURE (Yasuhiro Kaneda)
  • Exhibition construction: TANK (Naritake Fukumoto, Ai Noguchi, Takashi Arai), Takahiro Kai, Tsuguhiro Komazaki, Takashi Takamoto, Masayasu Fujiwara, Mauro Pasqualin, Pieter Jurriaanse, Paolo Giabardo, Valentino Pascolo, Jacopo David, Tommaso Rampazzo
  • Fabrication cooperation: So Sugita Lab at Hiroshima Institute of Technology
  • Local Coordinator: Harumi Muto
  • Exhibition design management: associates (Kozo Kadowaki, Akiko Kadowaki)
  • With the special support of: Ishibashi Foundation


Titled “Elephant”, the Thai pavilion poses the question as well as its answer to how architecture can promote the way human beings and other species live together naturally and culturally based on the culture of the indigenous Kuy tribe and their elephants. Curated by Apiradee Kasemsook and designed by Boonserm Premtada of Bangkok Project Studio, the Thai pavilion is on display at the Sale d’Armi, Arsenale.

For centuries, the Kuy tribe and elephants have lived alongside each other in Surin, creating a self-sustained lifestyle by collecting food and medication from surrounding forests. However, the lack of sustainable planning has resulted in mass deforestation, which has forced the Kuy and their elephants to wander the streets of Thai towns. A decade ago, the government initiated a project to help them move back to a sustainable homeland.

During the curation process of the Thai Pavilion, the team conducted interviews with individuals involved in elephant welfare, such as mahouts, caretakers, elephant specialist veterinarians, and the revered monks and local villagers, to gain better knowledge about the way human beings and elephants live together.

Running parallel to the Venice Biennale, a “twin pavilion” has been on display in Surin, Thailand since March this year. Each pavilion displays man and elephant houses inspired by those existing in the villages. Although primitive, these houses are intricately embedded with consideration towards one another since elephants are regarded as extended family. Both pavilions are designed as two-storied structures: the low-level structure represents the house of Kuy people, while the high-level structure takes inspiration from the elephant house. Both are integrated to support one another.

The Pavilion in Surin was inaugurated on Thailand’s National Elephant Day at Wat Pa Ar Jiang, and was built by local craftsmen of north-eastern Thailand. On the other hand, the ‘non-identical twin’ pavilion in Venice is constructed by Italian craftsmen with materials sourced in Italy. The roof of the structure acts as the screen, displaying the life of the Kuy and elephants, and the life of the Surin Pavilion.

  • Commissioner: Office of Contemporary Art and Culture (OCAC), Ministry of Culture and Association of Siamese Architects under Royal Patronage (ASA)
  • Curator: Apiradee Kasemsook
  • Assistant curators: Nawanwaj Yudhanahas, Salila Trakulvech, and Sompoom Tangchupong
  • Exhibitor: Boonserm Premthada


Titled Wetland, the UAE Pavilion presents an experimental solution to the critical environmental impact of the construction industry. Curated by Wael Al Awar and Kenichi Teramoto, co-founders of Dubai-based practice Waiwai design, the concept presents a large-scale prototype structure created from an innovative, environmentally friendly cement made of recycled industrial waste brine, accompanied by photography works of Farah Al Qasimi. Exploring “sea salt as a traditional, locally-sourced building material, and its potential uses for developing sustainable habitation in desert environments like the UAE”, the prototype is 2.7m tall and 7m x 5m wide on its exterior, creating a walkable interior space. Formed from up to 3,000 modules, the exhibit is made of an MgO-based cement designed by the curators, in collaboration with NYU Abu Dhabi’s Amber Lab, the American University of Sharjah’s Department of Biology, Chemistry and Environmental Sciences, and the University of Tokyo’s Obuchi Lab and Sato Lab.

Kenichi Teramoto and Wael Al Awar, curators, UAE pavilion

Throughout our collaborative research process to develop a building material without the critical environmental impact of Portland cement, we’ve maintained a focus on a localized architectural practice deeply intertwined with the resources and environment of the Gulf. Our MgO cement is made from brine leftover during industrial desalination, a resource that the UAE has in abundance. It has the strength and durability to be used in modern architecture in standard brick shapes, but for this exhibition, we have been inspired by the UAE’s traditional vernacular architecture of coral houses, to hand-cast modules in organic, coral-inspired shapes. In this way, we are reimagining modern architectural processes and retaining a strong, poetic sense of the region’s identity and culture within the structure.”

Wael Al Awar and Kenichi Teramoto, architects and curators of the UAE Pavilion

Artwork by Farah Al Qasimi depicting the sabkhas (salt flats)

The prototype will be set against 4.5 meters wide, 3-meter-high photographs of the Al Ruwais sabkha (salt flats), taken by New York-based Emirati artist Farah AlQasimi. Capturing the tension between urbanisation and nature in the UAE’s sabkha, the images will be accompanied by a three-minute soundtrack capturing the ecological story of the sabkhas with water moving underground, the desalination process that creates brine, and the exhibition’s research journey.

The scenery of the sabkha sites presents a moment of conflict and resolution. On and below the earth, the sabkha is a serene living environment with many layers of water, sand, salt, and micro-organisms that have evolved in harmony to create a delicate ecological system that absorbs more carbon per square meter than the rainforest. But directly above this natural phenomenon are high-tension voltage cables running to massive industrial facilities nearby, emitting an ear-splitting electrical buzz. My photographs of the site capture this tension between industrialisation and the environment. I’m very proud to be contributing to the UAE’s pavilion, working with a cosmopolitan research team that really reflects the nation’s diversity.”

Farah Al Qasimi, Emirati artist

Wetland’s opening will mark the UAE’s 10th participation in the Venice Biennale, set against the inspirational context of the UAE’s 50th national anniversary. The exhibition presents a truly groundbreaking potential solution to the global issue of climate change, through a project that is rooted in our local stories, environment and society – reflecting the National Pavilion UAE’s commitment to telling the UAE’s untold stories while facilitating global dialogue. The ancient ecology of the sabkha will be brought to life in Venice through images by Farah Al Qasimi, one of the UAE’s most acclaimed contemporary artists.”

Laila Binbrek, Coordinating Director, National Pavilion UAE

Commissioner: The Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation

Supporter: Ministry of Culture and Youth

Research Team

  • Wael Al Awar and Kenichi Teramoto, research directors
  • Ryuji Kamon, head of research and lab prototyping
  • Lujaine Rizk, lab and research coordinator
  • Aisha Al Sahlawi, lab and research assistant
  • Dina Al Khatib, lab documentation
  • Ibrahim Khamis, lab assistant
  • Ahmad Beydoun, lab assistant
  • Adomas Zeineldin, lab assistant
  • Ibrahim Ibrahim, lab assistant
  • Alserkal Avenue, Dubai, Lab Space


  • New York University, Abu Dhabi, Amber Lab
  • Dr Kemal Celik, Assistant Professor of Civil and Urban Engineering
  • Dr Rotana Hay, Research Scientist
  • Dr Abdullah Khalil, Postdoctoral Associate
  • Dr Ghanim Kashwani, Postdoctoral Associate
  • Cornelius Otchere, Student Assistant
  • Sara Alanis, Student Assistant
  • Roshan Poudel, Student Assistant
  • University of Tokyo, Sato Lab and Obuchi Lab
  • Jun Sato, Structural Designer
  • Yusuke Obuchi, Digital Fabrication Designer
  • Mika Araki, Structural Designer
  • The American University of Sharjah, Department of Biology, Chemistry and Environmental Sciences
  • Dr Lucia Pappalardo, Associate Professor of Chemistry
  • Aysha Shabnam, Research and Lab Assistant



Titled “A Roof for Silence”, the Lebanese Pavilion investigates the question of living together, tackling the issue of coexistence through a questioning of the spaces of silence, and by putting into dialogue architecture, painting, music, poetry, video, and photography. Curated by Hala Wardé, founder of HW Architecture, in collaboration with Etel Adnan and Fouad Elkoury, the national pavilion is on display at the Magazzino del Sale (Zattere).

Hala Wardé, curator of Lebanon pavilion

The Lebanese Pavilion at the 2021 Venice Biennale, Curated by Hala Wardé, Tackles the Notions of Emptiness and Silence. Entitled “A Roof for Silence”, the Lebanese Pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, will investigate the question of living together, tackling the issue of coexistence through a questioning of the spaces of silence, and by putting into dialogue architecture, painting, music, poetry, video and photography. Curated by Hala Wardé, founder of HW architecture, in collaboration with Etel Adnan and Fouad Elkoury, the national pavilion will be on display at the Magazzino del Sale (Zattere).

Wardé, founder of HW Architecture, has in the past collaborated with Jean Nouvel on the Louvre Abu Dhabi project. Conceiving a “musical score, resonating disciplines, shapes and periods to provoke the sensory experience of a thought, articulated around the notions of emptiness and silence, as temporal and spatial conditions of architecture”, the intervention is treated as a manifesto for a new form of architecture.

Why not think about places in relation to their potential as voids rather than as solids? How can we fight fear of emptiness in architecture? How can we imagine forms that generate places of silence and contemplation?”

Hala Wardé, founder, HW Architecture

Stating that “the project affirms the need for empty space and for life that might inhabit it as a form of silence,”  Wardé based her vision on the cryptic shapes of 16 olive trees that are at least a 1,000 years old in Lebanon, whose hollowed forms are home to various species, considered as places of recollection or gathering, where peasants have convened for generations to decide on village affairs or to celebrate weddings. Integrated into the space of the Magazzino del Sale, and consisting of Etel Adnan’s ArtworkPaul Virilio’s PaintingFouad Elkoury’s PhotographiesAlain Fleischer’s Film and Soundwalk Collective’s sound composition, the Lebanese pavilion questions the territorial and urban approach to emptiness.

Etel Adnan artwork

Referencing Paul Virilio’s “Antiforms”, theory of the acceleration of time and the disintegration of territories, the project also resonates with the sudden Port of Beirut explosion that occurred on August 4, 2020. Conceived around artwork by the poet and artist Etel Adnan, “A Roof for Silence” will continue its cultural itinerary in different cities around the world after its inauguration in the 2021 Venice Biennale, from the National Museum of Beirut to the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. With a social and heritage dimension, the pavilion also aims to raise awareness about the rehabilitation of the damaged architectural and cultural heritage of the city of Beirut.

Commissioner: Jad Tabet

Architect and curator: Hala Wardé

With : Etel Adnan – « Olivéa: Hommage à la déesse de l’olivier » Artwork/ Paul Virilio – « Antiformes » Painting / Fouad Elkoury – “Olivier de Bchaaleh » 16 Photographies/ Alain Fleischer – « Les oliviers, piliers du Temps » Film/ Soundwalk Collective – “Falling into time”, Sound composition performed by Lucy Railton on cello and Daisuke Tadokoro on piano.

With the participation of: Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne / RSC Bucintoro / Galerie Lelong / Le Fresnoy – Studio national des arts contemporains / The Vinyl Factory/ Bits to Atoms


Titled “Yuan-er, a Courtyard-ology: From the Mega to the Micro”, the Chinese pavilion answers the question of how architecture can contribute to equality, connectivity and unity by resorting to familiar Chinese residential typologies. Curated by architect and academic Zhang Li, the pavilion explores the Chinese typology of courtyards that has been around for over 2,000 years, and which emphasises the physicality and the occupants of multi-family courtyards.

One of the most distinguished examples of yuan-er is The Forbidden City, which has withstood the test of time for 600 years. To further explore this typology, the China Pavilion’s curatorial team has invited experts from the Palace Museum to help identify the underlying cultural characteristics.

“The theme reflects the turning page of contemporary architecture, both Chinese and global. Compared to the obsession with forms at the end of the last century, architects today are reaching a worldwide consensus that architecture has to address the life of normal people if it is to remain a positive force in our civilisation.”

Zhang Li

Zhang Li, Curator, China Pavilion

The exhibition tackles questions such as “Why was yuan-er able, in the past and today, to bring people of such diversity closer to each other? What are the space-body relations that generate cohesive urban communities extending from one yuan-er to another? How would wisdoms of past yuan-ers benefit architecture of our time for people to live together, online as well as offline?”

Together We Heal by Atelier Team Minus

The Chinese pavilion will include five sections. In the first section, titled Together we Learn (Part I), several practicing architects display individual stories of inspirations and interventions related to yuan-er, through videos. In the second section, Together we Learn (Part II), six Chinese architects along with six historians dissect classic cases and provide interpretations through hologram projections. In the third section, Together we Design, attending visitors are invited to design their own yuan-ers, using an AI engine that features the vocabularies of six young Chinese architects. In the fourth section, Together we Feel, sound installations take visitors on a journey of senses. And finally, in the fifth section, Together we Heal, the parlour of a real yuan-er outside the Chinese pavilion shares stories of how people have used the courtyard as a space for healing.

  • Commissioner: China Arts and Entertainment Group Ltd. (CAEG)
  • Organizer: Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of China
  • Presented by: China International Exhibition Agency
  • Academic Mentorship: The Palace Museum
  • Special Academic Mentor: WANG Xudong
  • Producer: WANG Chen
  • Top Sponsor: The Palace Museum
  • Major Sponsor: Longfor Group, The Beijing Palace Museum Cultural Relics Protection Foundation
  • Special Support: Beijing OLP Public Design Company, HONGRI LIGHTING
  • Curator: ZHANG Li
  • Research Team: School of Architecture, Tsinghua University / Department of Architectural Heritage, The Palace Museum / Silk Road Artistic Research and Collaboration and Innovation Center, Central Academy of Fine Arts / World Architecture Magazine Publications
  • Artistic Advisors: WU Hongliang, YUE Jieqiong, ZHAO Peng
  • Display Design & Graphic Design: Atelier TeamMinus
  • Curator Assistants: YE Yang; BAI Xue; DENG Huishu; MANCINI,Marta ; WANG Ziheng


Pakistan Pavilion at the 2021 Venice Biennale explores new architectural typologies inspired by weddings. Titled “Mapping Festivities”, the Pakistan Pavilion that is on display on the second floor of the Palazzo Mora, explores the national wedding hall as an architectural typology of post-colonial Pakistan. Curated by Sara M. Anwar, the Shaadi (wedding in Urdu) Hall is a traditional Pakistani typology that first appeared in the early 1980s to address the needs of the fast-growing population of the city of Karachi. Residential villas were transformed into wedding ceremony spaces through architectural interventions such as billboard-inspired entrance façades, which created a perforated layer between the city and the newly-established space.

Sara M. Anwar, curator, Pakistan Pavilion

Our project particularly reveals the complex community that builds the underlying infrastructure of wedding festivities: a community of architects, construction workers, designers, caterers, photographers, technicians, needlecraft workers/tailors, makeup artists, videographers, and performers. These are the ordinary citizens that become purveyors of ‘extraordinary’ festive dreams. Mapping Festivity investigates these complex relationships and how festive dreams materialize through the city and its people.”

Sara M. Anwar, Pakistan Pavilion Curator

As a response to the evolving urban and social needs, the pavilion explores the various dimensions of weddings in Pakistan as a spatial network that stands as both an expression of cultural traditions and an institutional and economic interplay. Since weddings are festivities that bring people together, they establish a space for people from diverse industries and social classes to coexist in harmony.

Commissioned by the Pakistan Council of Architects and Town Planners (PCATP), the exhibition is displayed as a catalyst of urban research and data collection at a citywide scale to ‘engage, empower and elevate’ Pakistani students and citizens. The collected research was then interpreted into a visual presentation for the biennale’s international visitors.


Mass accommodation for pilgrims at the old airport, Saudi Arabia

Titled “Accommodations”, the Saudi Arabian Pavilion analyses the spatial and social encounters of hosting and housing in the oil-rich country, where histories, protocols, and gestures are intertwined. The showcase has been curated by Hussam Dakkak, Basmah Kaki, and Hessa AlBader, in collaboration with Brooklyn-based curators Uzma Z. Rizvi, New York-based academic and anthropological cultural archaeologist, and Brooklyn- and Sharjah-based art historian and critic Murtaza Vali.

Architects Hussam Dakkak, Basmah Kaki, and Hessa AlBader of practice Studio Bound were selected to represent the Saudi Arabian Kingdom’s second biennale appearance, in collaboration with curators Uzma Z. Rizvi and Murtaza Vali. The architects’ practice spans Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, and Kuwait, representing a generation witnessing a creative shift and cultural transformation in the country. The pavilion is explored through the lens of current and historic quarantines, inviting visitors for exploration, retrospection, and analysis.

The three-part exhibition is characterised as several spaces within a space, inviting visitors to observe and analyse the intertwining relationship between inclusion and exclusion through imagery. Visitors are invited to respond to the question of how external contexts influence enclosed spaces, and derive new meanings from these situations, redefining the relationship between the individual as a single entity, the community as a whole, and the others, and stimulate a discussion about the architectural implications of this past year. 

Uzma Z. Rizvi, co-curator, Saudi Arabia Pavilion

The exhibition traces the history of enclosures, examining how the built environment and urban fabric adapt to accommodate emergency conditions and how the meaning and use of such spaces shift over time. Through the Saudi National Pavilion, we hope to inspire a greater understanding of the tensions between the acts of separation inherent in quarantine and the acts of accommodation required to continue living.”

Uzma Z. Rizvi and Murtaza Vali, curators

  • Exhibitors: Hussam Dakkak, Basmah Kaki, and Hessa AlBader (Studio Bound)
  • Curators: Murtaza Vali and Uzma Z. Rizvi
  • Commissioner: Architecture and Design Commission and the Saudi Ministry of Culture


Hof Hasharon Dairy Farm; photo: Aviad Bar-Ness

Israeli Pavilion at the Venice Biennale highlights the impact of machine-driven agriculture on landscapes and ecosystems, as well as the disruption caused to local communities. Titled Land. Milk. Honey and curated by an interdisciplinary team comprising Dan Hasson, Iddo Ginat, Rachel Gottesman, Yonatan Cohen and Tamar Novick, the exhibition underscores the intrinsic changes experienced by the region through the stories of local animals, constructing a history of the 20th-century development.

It examines the relationships between humans, animals and the environment within the local context. Israel’s economic growth has largely been driven through urbanisation, infrastructure projects and mechanised agriculture. While this has boosted its economic status in the region, its impact on fauna and flora is now being evaluated, and the exhibition sheds light on the environmental and social challenges resulting of the rampant agricultural growth of the past century.

Land.Milk.Honey highlights the far-reaching changes to the landscape brought by technology, using a zoocentric analysis that comprises five study cases represented by local animals, domesticated and wild: cows, goats, honeybees, water buffalos and bats. The exhibition emphasises the need to establish a new kind of relationship between humans, animals, and the environment.

The pavilion is divided into five stages: Mechanisation, Territory, Cohabitation, Extinction, and the Post-Human, which together make up the history of a space that has been almost entirely transformed by humans. In addition, the pavilion will also feature art installations, models, short films, archival photos and a dedicated soundtrack, which are woven together to highlight the impact of agriculture on the land.

  • Commissioned by: Israel Ministry of Culture and Sport – Museums and Visual Arts Department, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Cultural Diplomacy Bureau
  • Commissioners: Michael Gov, Arad Turgeman
  • Curators: Dan Hasson, Iddo Ginat, Rachel Gottesman, Yonatan Cohen and Tamar Novic
  • Exhibitors: Netta Laufer, Shadi Habib Allah, Aviad Bar-Ness, Gili Marin, Adam Havkin, Daniel Meir, Apollo Legisamo, and Sarale Gur Lavi

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