The winners of the 2021 Venice Biennale of Architecture
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The winners of the 2021 Venice Biennale of Architecture

The Golden and Silver Lion award winners and special mentions

Hashim Sarkis

The winners of the 2021 Venice Biennale of Architecture
Edited By Editorial Staff -

The United Arab Emirates has won the Golden Lion for Best National Participation at the 17th Venice Biennale of Architecture with its Wetland installation. This year’s event, titled How Will We Live Together? and curated by Lebanese architect Hashim Sarkis, will occupy the Giardini, Arsenale, and Forte Marghera areas of the complex until Sunday, November 21. The winner of the Golden Lion for the Best Participant is German architecture collective raumlaborberlin with Instances of Urban Practice. The Silver Lion for Promising Young Participant has gone to the Foundation for Achieving Seamless Territory (FAST), an architecture thinktank based in Amsterdam and New York, for its project Watermelons, Sardines, Crabs, Sands, and Sediments: Border Ecologies and the Gaza Strip. The prizes, which also include three special mentions, have been awarded by the international jury, chaired by Kazuyo Sejima (Japan), and composed of Sandra Barclay (Peru), Lamia Joreige (Lebanon), Lesley Lokko (Ghana-Scotland), and Luca Molinari (Italy ).

 

The winners of the Gold and Silver Lions

The Wetland exhibition, held in the United Arab Emirates pavilion in the Arsenale area, is curated by Wael Al Awar and Kenichi Teramoto. It brings together the results of ongoing research into the crystallization process that occurs in sebkhas, an ecosystem of natural salt plains in this Middle Eastern country. The process produces a renewable building material that is a sustainable alternative to Portland cement, therefore reducing environmental impacts. The exhibition includes a large-scale prototype constructed using an innovative form of concrete made from recycled industrial waste, along with a series of images of the salt plains by artist Farah Al Qasimi.

In awarding the Golden Lion for the Best National Participation to the United Arab Emirates, the jury mentioned, “an experiment that encourages us to think about the delicate relationship between waste and production on both the global and local scales, while proposing a new construction model capable of combining craftsmanship with advanced technologies.”

 

As for the recipient of the Best Participant award, which went to Instances of Urban Practice, the raumlaborberlin collective is showcasing two current projects in Berlin in the Corderie dell’Arsenale area: Floating University, located in an urban reservoir near the ex-Tempelhof airport, and Haus der Statistik, just off Alexanderplatz. The exhibition, created in collaboration with Kulturprojekte Berlin, focuses on these two cultural spaces, which share common origins in an artistic initiative that encompasses complex forms of self-organization and public-civil cooperation.

The jury described the project as “an inspiring collaborative approach that calls for participation and collective responsibility through its two visionary urban regeneration models.”

 

FAST, winner of the prize for Promising Young Participant, is presenting Watermelons, Sardines, Crabs, Sands, and Sediments: Border Ecologies and the Gaza Strip in the Centrale pavilion in the Giardini area. The exhibition traces the transformation of a small farm into a Kutzazh, an agricultural village, located on one of the most militarized borders in the world between Gaza and Israel. It tells ten stories that illustrate daily life on the farm.

The jury described the project as a “daring proposal that prompts us to reflect on divided histories, agricultural practices, the rituals of daily life, and the realities of settlement and occupation.”

Following the suggestion of the event curator, Hashim Sarkis, the Biennale’s board of directors awarded a Special Golden Lion in Memoriam to Lina Bo Bardi, the Italian-born Brazilian architect, designer, set designer, artist, and critic, who passed away in 1992, and a Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement to Rafael Moneo, the Spanish architect, lecturer, theorist, and critic.

 

Special mentions

Special mentions for national participation have been awarded to Russia for Open! (in the Giardini area) and the Philippines for Structures of Mutual Support (Arsenale).

The Russian exhibition, curated by Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli and dedicated to the role of cultural institutions today, investigates that fluid, indeterminate zone between the physical and digital spaces. It comprises three parts: a semi-empty pavilion that presents elements of the refurbishment of Alexej Shchusev’s 1914 pavilion by KASA Architects; a gaming console that reflects on the political potential of videogames; and a collection of 28 articles that explore alternative models for thinking and acting within institutions.

The jury described the contribution as “a sensitive and careful renovation of a historical pavilion in the Giardini area that opens it to both its immediate surroundings and the future.”

 

The Philippines’ installation consists of a small timber library, created by the pavilion curators, architects Sudarshan Varsovia Khadka Jr. and Alexander Eriksson Furunes, together with members of the farming collective GK Enchanted Farm Community. The theme of the exhibition is, in fact, mutual support, seen as an approach to self-organization and collaboration between communities so as to develop resilience and to support each other during times of adversity, such as seasonal changes, natural disasters, and armed conflict.

The jury described the installation as “an exemplary community project that creates a rich archive and experience of collaborative construction practices.”

 

Finally, a third special mention went to Kenyan participant Cave_bureau for the installation The Anthropocene Museum: Exhibit 3.0 Obsidian Rain, on show in the Centrale pavilion in the Giardini area. The exhibition consists of a collection of obsidian stones hung from the ceiling by hemp rope over a table intended to host discussions on the environment and other important topics, including the state of architecture in Kenya, Africa, and beyond.

The jury described the project as “an imaginative and creative exploration of one of the oldest environments inhabited by human beings.”

 

Credits

Golden Lion for Best National Participation

United Arab Emirates

Wetland

Commissioner: Salama Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation

Supporter: UAE Ministry of Culture and Youth

Curators: Wael Al Awar and Kenichi Teramoto

Exhibitors: waiwai, New York University - Abu Dhabi (Amber Lab), University of Tokyo (Sato Lab and Obuchi Lab), American University of Sharjah (Dept. of Biology, Chemistry and Environmental Sciences), Farah Al Qasimi

Publication: written by Ahmed & Rashid Bin Shabib, Co-edited by Wael Al Awar and Kenichi Teramoto, with contribution from Marina Tabassum

Venue: Arsenale

Photos by: Andrea Avezzù, courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia

 

Two special mentions awarded to the following National Participations

Russia

Open!

Commissioner: Teresa Iarocci Mavica

Curator: Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli

Exibitors: KASA (Kovaleva and Sato Architects), Mikhail Maximov, Lion & Unicorn, Ilia Mazo, Yuliya Kozhemyako, Electric Red, Pavel Milyakov aka Buttechno, Vladmir Rannev

Venue: Giardini

Photos by Francesco Galli, courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia

 

and

 

Philippines

Structures of Mutual Support

Commissioner: National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), Arsenio “Nick” Lizaso, Chairman;

Curators/Exibitors: Framework Collaborative (GK Enchanted Farm Community,

Architects Sudarshan Varsovia Khadka Jr. and Alexander Eriksson Furunes)

Venue: Arsenale

Photos by: Andrea Avezzù, courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia

 

Golden Lion for the best participant in the 17th Exhibition How will we live together?

raumlaborberlin

(Berlin, Germany)

Instances of Urban Practice

Andrea Hofmann (Germany, 1969), Axel Timm (Germany, 1973), Benjamin Foerster-Baldenius (Germany, 1968), Christof Mayer (Germany, 1967), Florian Stirnemann (Swiss, 1976),

Francesco Apuzzo (Italy, 1972), Frauke Gerstenberg (Germany, 1968),

Jan Liesegang (Germany, 1968) and Markus Bader (Germany, 1968)

Venue: Corderie of the Arsenale

Photos by Marco Zorzanello, courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia

 

Silver Lion for a promising young participant in the 17th Exhibition How will we live together?

Foundation for Achieving Seamless Territory (FAST)

(Amsterdam, The Netherlands; New York, USA)

Watermelons, Sardines, Crabs, Sands, and Sediments: Border Ecologies and the Gaza Strip

with contributions by Amir Qudaih (Palestine, 1993) and the Qudaih family (Palestine),

Yael Berda (Israeli, 1976), Sandra Kassenaar (Dutch, 1982),

and Malkit Shoshan (Israeli/ Dutch, 1976)

Venue: Central Pavilion – Giardini

Photos by Francesco Galli, courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia

 

Special mention to the following Participant

Cave_bureau

(Nairobi, Kenya)

The Anthropocene Museum: Exhibit 3.0 Obsidian Rain

Kabage Karanja (Kenya, 1979) and Stella Mutegi (Kenya, 1979),

in collaboration with Densu Moseti (Kenya, 1986)

Venue: Central Pavilion – Giardin

Photos by Francesco Galli, courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia

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