Resilient Communities: the Italian pavilion at the 2021 Biennale
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Resilient Communities: the Italian pavilion at the 2021 Biennale of Architecture

Resilient Communities: the Italian pavilion at the 2021 Biennale
By Editorial Staff -

With the opening of the 17th Venice Biennale of Architecture now confirmed for May 22, a launch event was held for the Italian pavilion, which in 2021 will be named Resilient Communities.

Conducting the launch was Onofrio Cutaia, director general of Contemporary Creativity for MiBACT, Italy’s Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Tourism. Cutaia outlined how the pavilion is just one part of a broader strategy being pursued by MiBACT. He highlighted the Ministry’s commitment to finding points of overlap among all the contemporary arts so as to encourage further opportunities to discuss future developments. This is obviously part and parcel of the question being asked by this year’s exhibition: “How will we live together?” – a question that concerns every artist, especially at this point in history.

Roberto Cicutto, president of the Venice Biennale, mentioned that, following the postponement of the 2020 Biennale and learning from the experience of the scaled-down Venice International Film Festival, this year’s Biennale of Architecture is being held with a raft of health and safety regulations, including testing and social distancing. The regulations will be well publicized and followed by both the public and staff.

The launch of the Italian pavilion, to be situated in the Tese delle Vergini, Arsenale area, was opened by event curator Alessandro Melis, who went into great and enthusiastic detail describing the different sections that make up the exhibition.

Resilient Communities puts the pressing issue of climate change centerstage, along with the tough challenges now facing architecture. The event will highlight the threat of climate change to the sustainability of our urban, manufacturing, and agricultural systems, and what our main challenges and opportunities are today.

The real purpose of the Italian pavilion is to get visitors thinking about mechanisms for community resilience, a key priority for establishing a new form of interaction between urban and industrial spaces fueled by a cross-sectorial approach and flexibility – both essential factors in times of change.

Melis went on to thank Minister Franceschini, quoting paleoanthropologist Heather Pringle, who argues that creativity is the result of a survival mechanism.

It’s important to send out a signal that now is the time for creatives and visionaries to step up. It’s in the DNA of Italians…. We want this to be the “Pavilion of Possibilities”…. This year’s Biennale is making the impossible possible. – Alessandro Melis

The Italian pavilion will be investigating marginalization, because it’s often in the background that we find solutions to problems and come to understand the human capacity for resilience through creativity. The pavilion will take people on a journey into the heart of darkness to find the road to a better future.

The pavilion itself will be almost carbon neutral. This was achieved by reusing and adding to materials from the 2019 Italian pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale International Art Exhibition. The event will therefore not only be a unique opportunity to showcase projects that reflect the pavilion’s goals, but also to study the life cycle of a project from the perspective of resilience.


The sections of the Italian pavilion


Located near the pavilion entrance, Architectural Exaptation is curated by Alessandro Melis, Benedetta Medas, Paola Corrias, and Alice Maccanti. This section is dedicated to a theme that’s key to the entire exhibition, that is, how, according to niche construction theory, diversity, variability, redundancy, and inhomogeneity all help fuel resilience.

The Dolomiti Care section, curated by Gianluca D’Inca Levis, examines the impact of Vaia (the catastrophic storm that hit northeastern Italy in October 2018) and the aftermath in Vajont and other communities in the Dolomites as examples of the extreme weather events caused by climate change.

Coordinated by the RebelArchitette collective and Alessandro Melis, Decolonizing the Built Environment focuses on women in architecture along with inclusiveness, diversity, and career paths – all issues that demand more attention.

Presented by Paolo di Nardo and Francesca Tosi, DESIGN(ING): “Dal cucchiaio alla città” (From spoon to city) looks at a range of issues, including media cities, design, master’s courses in resilience, and regeneration. Italian media cities are taken as the model par excellence of resilience in the master’s degree in Italian architecture along with a holistic approach that defines the Italian architectural path.

Coordinated by Antonino Di Raimo and Maria Perbellini, Architecture as a Caregiver investigates the role of healthcare architecture in the era of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Sud Global, presented by Paola Ruotolo, brings together important examples of Italian architecture that have contributed to the resilience of Sub-Saharan communities. The section features projects by architects Arturo Vittori, TAM Associati ARUP, Paolo Cascone and Marilena Laddaga’s CODESIGNLAB, Giovanni Beti and Katharina Fleck, and Andrea Tabocchini and Francesca Vittorini. Also featured are the photography of Filippo Romano and the multimedia work of Eva Palacios.

Coordinated by Maurizio Carta and Paolo Di Nardo, Università. Agenzie di Resilienza explores the role of universities as agents for resilience education. In this section, twenty-six universities will showcase their course offerings, providing an exhaustive overview of what resilient transformation can offer Italy.

In Storia di un Minuto, coordinators Emilia Giorgi, Guido Incerti, and Alessandro Gaiani, in partnership with Action Aid, examine resilience and seismic risk in Italy through a photographic exhibition that traces the different stages of a catastrophe. The aim is to help us recognize the signs that our territory is giving us.

In Italian Best Practice, coordinators Gian Luigi Melis, Margherita Baldocchi, and Benedetta Medas are showcasing a selection of projects by Italian architects that focus on resilience, understood as a relationship with the existing space.

Presented by Ilaria Fruzzeti, Laura Luperi, and Nico Panizzi, Laboratorio Peccioli is structured like a research lab. By offering visitors a chance to study the situation in the Italian municipality of Peccoili, this section is an opportunity to reflect on minor historical centers as models for development and the ideal place for trying new ways of incorporating contemporaneity into historical settings.

Ingrid Paoleti is the coordinator of Ecologia Tacita, an event that showcases the dichotomy between technology and biodiversity.

Resilienza, Paesaggio e Arte (Resilience, landscape, art) is curated by Annacaterina Piras (LWCircus) and Emanuele Montibeller (Arte Sella). This section presents case studies of places, including the Arte Sella museum and the Italian island of Asinara, where art is being used as a lever for improving the landscape and resilience.

Dario Pedrabissi is coordinating Giardino delle Vergini (Garden of the virgins), dedicated to outdoor comfort. It includes designs by Giuseppe Fallacara and Pierandrea Angius for ZHA architects, as well as by Maria Perbellini, Gianni Pettena, the Orizzontale collective, and David Turnbull.

Arti Creative ed Industriali is presented by Benedetta Medas, Monica Battistoni, Dana Hamdan, and J. Antonio Lara Hernandez. The focus here is the creative arts, with the exhibit physically and thematically overlapping with the Decolonizing the Built Environment section.

Closing the launch, Minister Franceschini said:

We’re aware of how, in the face of multiple social and environmental concerns, architecture is being asked to make an increasingly specialized contribution to our daily lives. The Italian pavilion in 2021 goes a long way to promoting awareness of the capacity of Italian communities to make the changes and adaptations now needed to respond locally to global challenges. And there’s no escaping this task. We now need to share the progress made by Italian research in the many fields connected with these vitally important issues. By doing this, we hope to make a significant contribution that will continue to bear fruit long after the prestigious Venetian exhibition has closed its doors.

Sito web ufficiale del Padiglione Italia 2021:
Sito web ufficiale La Biennale:
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