Architecture Biennale 2018 - Freespace

16th International Architecture Exhibition

From 26 May 2018 to 25 November 2018

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From Saturday May 26th to Sunday November 25th, Venice will host the Architecture Biennale 2018!

Directed by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, the 16th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice focuses on space, its quality and in particular on free space, in both senses. Freespace can be a characteristic of a single project, but it can also reveal the presence or absence of architecture, in its meaning as an idea applied to the space in which we live.

The FREESPACE Manifesto developed by the curators was the point of reference for the realization of the entire event, in order to make it as cohesive and 'complete' as possible. The hope of Farrell and McNamara is that the word FREESPACE will lead to probe the aspirations, ambitions and generosity of architecture as a translation of necessity into meaningful space. The response of the participants to the Venice Architecture Biennale 2018 was not long in coming: much enthusiastic feedback has been given, the manifesto was questioned, turned inside out and interpreted by architects from all over the world to offer examples, insights and ideas for discussion.

The manifesto of the Venice 2018 Architecture Exhibition Freespace develops around three focal points: architecture’s ability to offer free and additional spaces, but also to satisfy unexpressed desires; the opportunity to enhance the gifts and resources of nature, light above all, in addition to artificial ones; analyze the way we think in the light of new ideas and solutions where architecture can contribute to the well-being and dignity of all the inhabitants of the planet.

Participants and national pavilions were invited to present their Freespace with the aim of showing the specificity, continuity and diversity of architecture according to places, history, time and people, in order to promote the importance of architectural culture in our varied and dynamic planet.

In architecture, time is not linear: past, present and future are continually reinterpreted and reworked. Architectural culture therefore requires constant care and attention, commitment and perseverance. The theme of time is also analyzed through a special study of the 2018 Biennale, in which the past takes new life thanks to contemporary architects. To ensure the knowledge and continuity of tradition, teaching plays a leading role and, precisely to enhance its importance, many of the professionals present at the 16th Exhibition are active in the field of teaching.

In organizing the Architecture Biennale in Venice 2018, the curators also largely took the city on water into consideration: their approach aims to bring the context and the air of Venice into the atmosphere of the exhibition by creating a conscious link. Dressing their role as architects, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara brought out the qualities of the Corderie and the Central Pavilion, a series of contrasting atmospheres that influenced their choices and the placement of the participants themselves.

Articulated in the historic buildings of the Giardini and the Arsenale, the Biennale of Architecture, Venice 2018 has 71 participants, who are joined by the ones of the two special sections:

  • Close Encounter, meetings with remarkable projects’ - 16 participants will present works created following a reflection on famous projects of the past;
  • 'The Practice of Teaching' - 12 participants, it is a collection of works developed in the field of teaching.

The exhibition will then be flanked by 63 National Participations in the Pavilions at the Giardini, the Arsenale and in the historic center of Venice. 6 countries will be present at the Venice 2018 Architecture Biennale for the first time: Antigua & Barbuda, Saudi Arabia, Guatemala, Lebanon, Pakistan, and the Holy See.

At the Architecture Biennale Venice 2018, the Italian Pavilion - Arcipelago Italia - will be curated by Mario Cucinella, supported and promoted by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism, Directorate General for Contemporary Art and Architecture and Urban Peripheries.

There will also be numerous Collateral Events proposed by international institutions, which are scattered around Venice.

As always, there will be plenty of Special Projects:

  • in Mestre, the Forte Marghera Special Project, curated by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, includes an installation by the architects Sami Rintala and Dagur Eggertsson, which will also host some events scheduled in Forte Marghera.
  • at the Arsenal Halls of Venice, the Special Project at the Pavilion of Applied Arts, curated by Christopher Turner and Olivia Horsfall Turner, analyzes the future of social housing through a fragment of the housing complex, Robin Hood Gardens, designed by Alison and Peter Smithson in East London.

We cannot forget to mention the numerous initiatives, now fully included in the program of the Venice Architecture Biennale:

  • Meetings on Architecture, the rich program of conversations, curated by Farrell and McNamara, which offers the chance to discuss the various interpretations of the FREESPACE Manifesto and to listen to the interventions of the protagonists of the Exhibition. The Meetings on Architecture will then be complemented by contributions from the participating countries and a rich calendar of meetings organized in collaboration with important international institutions such as the London School of Economics/Cities and Alfred Herrhaussen Gesellschaft and with the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The Historical Archive of the Venice Biennale will also contribute by presenting a study day on architecture in the archives.
  • Biennale Sessions, a project that La Biennale di Venezia dedicates to institutions operating in training and research in the field of architecture, arts and related fields in order to offer facilities and assistance for three-day visits organized for groups of at least 50 people, between students and teachers.
  • Educational, initiatives aimed at students of all levels, families, professionals, companies and individual visitors who expect active involvement through Guided Tours and Laboratory Activities.


The Venice 2018 Architecture Biennale will be held on Thursday 24th and Friday 25th May, the inauguration and award ceremony - during which the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement will be presented to Kenneth Frampton, an English architect, historian, critic and educator - will take place on Saturday 26th May 2018.


16th International Architecture Exhibition

Open to the public from Saturday 26th May to Sunday 25th November

Giardini & Arsenale

Closed on Mondays, except Monday 28th May, 13th August, 3rd September and 19th November

Architecture Biennale Venezia 2018 Giardini

  • From 10.00 to 18.00 (the ticket office closes at 17.30)

Biennale Architettura Venezia 2018 Arsenale

  • From 10.00 to 18.00 (the ticket office closes at 17.30)
    Only Fridays and Saturdays until September 29th: from 10.00 to 20.00 (the ticket office closes at 19.30)
By Insidecom Editorial Staff