Are you still waiting to get your jab? Or, are you on stand-by for border re-openings? Either way, if you’re itching to visit the rescheduled Biennale Architettura 2021, which opens to the public on May 22nd, you are not alone. Anticipating this, a group of pavilions from various countries has independently teamed up to deliver a unique online program for all wishing to experience architecture’s big event from home.
The collective, online digital platform, Biennale Pavilions, is a self-organized initiative envisioned as a supplement to the main event. It serves both online visitors and those who are physically present in Venice, allowing them to watch events and broadcasts on a single digital hub and re-watched anytime from the website archive. Information about the pavilions and events and hyperlinks to independent websites have been paired with calendars to help with scheduling. All of this is offered in a clean and easy to navigate interface, facilitated by Estonia’s long-standing technological prowess for the virtual infrastructure.
Six National Pavilions took the initiative: Estonia, Switzerland (Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia), Lithuania (Rupert), Great Britain (British Council), Finland (Archinfo), and Luxembourg (Luxembourg Center for Architecture) belonging to theCommissioner Group, who sought to acknowledge and address the unprecedented parameters drawn by the global pandemic. Having now grown to encompass nineteen countries — Austria, Canada, Dominican Republic, France, Grenada, Kuwait, Latvia, Nordic Pavilion, Poland, Singapore, USA, The Netherlands, and Turkey, in addition to the founders — the site looks set to continue its growth as the summer wears on.
This year’s event is curated by Hashim Sarkis and poses the thematic question, “How will we live together?” Although this was first chosen just months before the world went into lockdown, the range of responses will indeed be fitting for the new, changing world that continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic. Emphasizing the spatial nature of the question, Sarkis asks architects to channel their spirit of optimism “in the context of widening political divides and growing economic inequalities” and “calls on architects to imagine spaces in which we can generously live together.”
Collectively created and democratic in its goals, the digital space of Biennalepavilions.com takes this spirit to heart; the platform will help to facilitate the architectural discussions and engaged participation over the course of the six month event.