Find your way around the national pavilions, the section curated by Lesley Lokko and the exhibitions staged in Venice on the occasion of the 2023 Architecture Biennale, which opens on 20 May

The 18th International Architecture Exhibition 2023 of the Venice Biennale opens to the public on Saturday 20 May (until 26 November 2023), the day of the announcement of the Golden Lions for the best National Participation and for the best participant in the International Exhibition The Laboratory of the Future; the Silver Lion for a promising young participant in the Exhibition; as well as a special mention to the National Participations and a maximum of two special mentions to participants in the International Exhibition.

The first appointment of the cycle of Carnival meetings (Teatro Piccolo Arsenale from 17.00 to 18.30) is also expected on 20 May which, aimed at exploring the themes of the 2023 Architecture Biennale, will take place during the six months of the exhibition .

See also: Architecture Biennale 2023: information, calendar and updates

“This program is meant to be a form of architectural practice that attempts to bridge the gap between architects and the public,” Lesley Lokko points out.

It will be an occasion for exchanges, analyzes and opinions in which politicians, policymakers, poets, filmmakers, documentarians, writers, activists, community organizers and intellectuals will share the stage with architects, academics and students.

Curator Lesley Lokko's requests

For the 2023 Architecture Biennale, Lesley Lokko has chosen the theme The Laboratory of the Future.

The intent is to investigate the possibilities of creating a collective tomorrow starting from the experiences of the African continent which has always tackled contemporary issues concretely.

See also: Architecture Biennale 2023: who is the curator Lesley Lokko

In her role as researcher in the field of architecture, Lokko dwells on the concepts of decarbonization and decolonization of architecture.

To achieve these objectives it is necessary to evolve the language of architecture, until it is truly universal.

In an effort of openness and innovation she passes through the places of training in which she is personally immersed. Participants, defined as Practitioners, were asked to have a different and broader understanding of the term architect, more coherent with a rapidly hybridizing world.

She "A unique opportunity - she promises referring to the world of architecture - to propose ambitious and creative ideas that help us imagine a more equitable and optimistic future in common".

See also: Architecture Biennale 2023: The Laboratory of the Future

What can we expect from Spaziale, the project of the Italian Pavilion

The Italian Pavilion promotes, in the words of the curators Fosbury Architecture, "pioneering actions relating to a time horizon that goes beyond the duration of the 2023 Architecture Biennale".

The project consisted of 9 site-specific interventions carried out in as many selected places throughout Italy - from Taranto to Trieste, from the Sorrento peninsula to Abruzzo, passing through the Venetian hinterland, moving gradually in Sardinia, Sicily, Calabria and Tuscany - to offer a cross-section of the architectural culture of the younger and more experimental generations.

The result of the processes triggered in the 9 territories will be on display in the Italian Pavilion from 20 May to 26 November 2023.

From the constellation of activations observed in recent months, an image of Italian architecture must emerge in which the interdisciplinary component prevails, where the architect relates in an innovative and original way to the communities and territories.

See also: Biennale 2023, Italian Pavilion: the curators, the theme and all the activations

For the first time, in fact, the Italian Pavilion has been interpreted by the curators as an activator of concrete actions for the benefit of local territories and communities, staging the research carried out by Italian architects under 40 in relation to specific territorial needs. In a collective and collaborative work, which goes beyond the idea of the architect-author.

Read also: The Biennale of the first times

What the National Pavilions investigated to respond to the "Laboratory of the Future"

According to curator Lesley Lokko, it was clear from the outset that The Laboratory of the Future would adopt the concept of change as its essential gesture.

In fact, the projects of the National Pavilions aim at this. By investigating issues related to water resources and sustainable development, climate change and biodiversity, they promise to re-establish the spatial contract between man and nature.

Spatial, cultural and political demarcations are at the heart of the Swiss Pavilion.

How to protect coasts and safeguard the climate through nature? How to apply these principles in different places of the world? It asks the Denmark Pavilion (opening photo), trusting that new ways of seeing nature and new visions of the world will manifest themselves in the transformation of the coastal landscape, provided they are approached with a multidisciplinary approach.

The Egypt Pavilion which develops with NiLab a joint work of architects and architecture professors from 24 universities from 10 different countries.

To think about a fertile, sustainable and fair future, Portugal's Fertile Futures project raises questions about the water resources of seven Portuguese hydrogeographies. Young architects, in collaboration with experts from other fields of knowledge, have the task of developing proactive models for a more sustainable tomorrow.

Australia explores the themes of decolonization and decarbonization by highlighting the colonial legacy of its continent at the end of the second Elizabethan era.

The Belgium investigates new relationships between architects and resources, developing constructive alternatives that use materials from living organisms.

The Spain undertakes a journey of exploration through the Spanish agro-architectural context to address global issues. It does so by analyzing our food systems and the architectures that make them up, and with Foodscapes it looks to the future to explore other possible models, capable of feeding the world without devouring the planet.

The one of Argentina is a look at the future of water through its present, to illustrate the situation of water in the country with the aim of better interpreting the relationship with it and promoting reflections on future actions.

The installation of the Georgia Pavilion symbolically focuses on water reservoirs, their creation and their impact on political transformations and climate change. How temporary is our footprint on the environment? And above all, what kind of imprint will these places leave and what is their future?

The Brazil puts the Earth at the centre in a global and cosmic sense, as a planet and common home of life, human and otherwise, as a memory and also as a future, looking to the past and heritage to expand the world of architecture.

The Great Britain Pavilion. Daily rituals (cultivation, cooking, games, dances) are the tools of diasporic communities to establish spaces and present new ways of thinking about architecture and the built environment. To promote an extended notion of architecture in which experimentation, collaboration, equity are part of the country's planning.

The sustained thesis of the German Pavilion project is that ecological sustainability is closely related to the social question.

The Ukrainian Pavilion, which has not participated in the Architecture Biennale since 2014. Before the Future - curated by Iryna Miroshnykova, Oleksii Petrov, Borys Filonenko – unfolds between the Pavilion at the Arsenale (Sale d'Armi) and an installation at the Spazio Esedra dei Giardini.

The first presents a claustrophobic space, without light outlets, as a symbol of abandoned places that can become vital for planning survival plans and hope for the future.

The open-air installation at the Spazio Esedra dei Giardini is based on a network of 10th-century fortifications in the largely forgotten Kiev region. Reactivated during the first days of the Russian invasion, it slowed the advance of the invading army towards the capital.

At various times throughout the Biennale Architettura 2023, these spaces will host a public program of meetings, where representatives of the Ukrainian cultural community will share their stories and experiences with the world.

Other exhibitions, outside the Biennale

Like any great artistic and cultural event, the Venice Biennale 2023 also brings with it a constellation of exhibitions, installations and meetings, obviously on the theme of Architecture, scattered among historic buildings, museum and exhibition spaces that open to the city for the occasion.

Those who are preparing to visit it will be able to go outside the institutional places to discover some other exhibitions related to the themes of the Biennale itself.

Read also: Fuori Biennale 2023: exhibitions on architecture not to be missed in Venice

So what to expect?

Given the premises, even the most demanding public will be able to identify other narratives and implement different tools and languages of space, form and place.

It is therefore expected, as promised by Lokko, that this edition will be able to "propose ambitious and creative ideas that help us imagine a more equitable and optimistic future in common".


Opening photo, Danish pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2023, ph R. Hjortshoj