17th International Architecture Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia
22 May - 21 Nov 2021
General Information

For access information on site in Venice please click here
Please note the new dates for the 17th International Architecture Exhibition

La Biennale di Venezia has announced that the 17th International Architecture Exhibition, curated by Hashim Sarkis, which was to take place in Venice from 29 August through 29 November 2020, has been postponed to 2021, to be held Saturday 22 May to Sunday 21 November 2021.

Consequently, the 59th International Art Exhibition, curated by Cecilia Alemani, which was to take place in 2021, has in turn been postponed to 2022. It will last 7 months and will be held from Saturday 23 April to Sunday 27 November 2022.

The project for the Pavilion of Switzerland continues on the theme of borders, with the appointed project team formed of Mounir Ayoub and Vanessa Lacaille from Laboratoire d’architecture in Geneva, as well as Fabrice Aragno and Pierre Szczepski. Details regarding the project will be communicated in due course. For more information on the project visit: https://swissbordertour.ch

Architect and curator Evelyn Steiner is responsible for the «Salon Suisse» at the 17th Biennale Architettura, a programme of talks and events supplementing the exhibition at the Swiss Pavilion. The «Salon Suisse», entitled «Bodily Encounters», will take place at the Palazzo Trevisan degli Ulivi during the the 17th Biennale Architettura. The exact dates are yet to be announced.

Salon Suisse

«Salon Suisse» at the 17th Biennale Architettura: Bodily Encounters

Organised by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, the «Salon Suisse» runs concomitantly to the exhibition at the Swiss Pavilion and is now in its ninth year. The programme consists of a series of lectures, talks and cultural events, and, over several long weekends, aims to provide a meeting point for the entire duration of the Biennale. It offers an opportunity to discuss art and the Biennale in a relaxed and stimulating atmosphere.

Evelyn Steiner, curator at the ZAZ (Zentrum Architektur Zürich, Switzerland), has developed the programme for the «Salon Suisse» at the 17th Biennale Architettura.

«Bodily Encounters revolves around the fundamental relationships between body and architecture: when space is being experienced, the body serves as the most important system of orientation and measurement. Architecture protects the body, extends it and condenses its memories. Furthermore, the built environment touches all our senses and influences our psyche. Last but not least, architecture itself constitutes a body and a living organism, especially with regard to the increasing interconnection of the physical world and the virtual world.
Accordingly, anthropomorphic concepts essentially define architectural theory: since antiquity, the body has served as the unit of measure for the design of architecture. The built environment also has a reciprocal effect on the body and creates the stage where human beings interact – it cements social norms, sets limits, and assists in the fabrication of identities. 
Following the tradition of the Salon and its claim of reigniting a culture of stimulating debate and social encounter in an agreeable ambience, the manifold encounters between body and architecture are examined from different perspectives, concentrating on three topics: at the first Salon in September, the emphasis is on viewing built structures as animated independent organisms, the spatial gestures of which enter into a dialogue with the human being. The Salon in October focuses on how architecture creates standardised realities that define our coexistence. Within the third and last Salon in November, bodily alterations and optimisation measures, such as body hacking or anti-ageing procedures, are assessed and fructifiedfor architectural discourse. As a result of its broad approach, Salon Suisse deals with a multitude of disciplines and themes, such as transhumanism, psychoanalysis, neurosciences, literature, interior design, disability studies, fluid spaces, habitation, mood-sensitive houses and many more. 
This is all geared towards not only those involved in the practice and teaching of architecture, but also, most importantly, everyday experts who wish to enrich the discipline of architecture with their knowledge – in short, everyone who wants to have new bodily encounters and experiences, and to explore the multifarious dimensions of the body and of architecture.» 
—Evelyn Steiner

Swiss Pavilion
Le laboratoire d’architecture (Vanessa Lacaille, Mounir Ayoub), Fabrice Aragno and Pierre Szczepski at the Biennale Architettura 2020 - © Le laboratoire d’architecture
The Venice Architecture Biennale is considered one of the most respected platforms for architecture and urban design worldwide. In light of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition due to open in May 2020, the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia for the second time conducted a competition to choose a team, which is to represent Switzerland at the Biennale di Venezia. Out of the 51 applications submitted, seven teams were picked to present their project. Five of these projects were subsequently selected for a second round. At the unanimous recommendation of the Biennale jury appointed by Pro Helvetia, the assignment to create the exhibition at the Swiss Pavilion went to Mounir Ayoub, Vanessa Lacaille, from Laboratoire d’architecture in Geneva, and Fabrice Aragno and Pierre Szczepski.

The project 
The winning team had opted for the politically topical theme of «borders», exploring it as a spatial phenomenon. The project also raises the question of how borders are perceived by people who actually live close to them. In what different ways do people experience borders? How do we relate to them? What spatial and physical dimensions does a border take on? In order to find some answers, the team actively involves inhabitants from the catchment area of the Swiss borders. Drawing from this research, the team aims to create an exhibition that speaks specifically of Swiss borders, but also raises for debate the subject of borders in general.  

The project team  
Mounir Ayoub, architect and journalist; Vanessa Lacaille, architect and garden designer; Fabrice Aragno, film director, producer and cutter; and Pierre Szczepski, painter, sculptor and model maker. Mounir Ayoub and Vanessa Lacaille work together at Laboratoire d'architecture in Geneva. The firm combines architectural and landscaping experiments with research and writing activities.

The jury 
The jury was made up of Céline Guibat (jury president, architect EPFL, SIA, Zurich, Sion), Anna Hohler (architecture critic, UNIL, SIA, Lausanne), Verena Konrad (architecture curator, Vorarlberg, Austria), Lukas Meyer (architect ETH, FAS, Bellinzona) and Rob Wilson (architecture writer, The architects’ journal, London, UK).  
This year, 51 dossiers were submitted to Pro Helvetia and in accordance to the competition regulations, seven projects have been selected for the shortlist of the competition.
These seven projects have been chosen by Pro Helvetia based on the recommendation of a specialised jury:
  • «Les villes suisses se jettent à l'eau», a project of Paysage n’co sarl: Valérie Hoffmeyer, Monique Keller and Sylvie Kleiber - Geneva
  • «Open Limit», a project of LVPH Architectes: Laurent Vuilleumier and Paul Humbert - Pampigny
  • «The seven rules», a project of studioSML: Sara Cavicchioli, Léo Collomb, Max Collomb and Lisa Collomb - Lausanne
  • «Thicknesses of the Swiss border», a project of Le Laboratoire d'architecture: Mounir Ayoub, Vanessa Lacaille, Fabrice Aragno and Pierre Szczepski - Geneva
  • «True Story», a project of Patrick Arnold and Benjamin Groothuijse - Zurich
  • «VILLA SVIZZERA», a project of Josephine Eigner, Michelle Geilinger, Dennis Häusler and Jan Westerheide - Zurich
  • «Walla», a project of Mikael Blomfelt, Roger Boltshauser, Andres Bosshard, Veronika Spierenburg and Sabine von Fischer - Zurich
In the first round of the selection procedure, the jury conducted three stages of evaluation, which resulted in seven projects remaining in the competition. In stage one, the projects submitted were closely assessed and compared. Each jury member was instructed to personally rate the 51 entries and to pick a selection of them for the actual evaluation. Stages two and three consisted of comparing the results and cutting the number of projects retained down to seven.
The seven projects have been presented to the jury in a meeting in November 2018. The candidates that have been selected based on their presentation have been able to pursue and develop their projects for two months before the final assessment.

Press Material
28 Mar 2019

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Press Contact
Switzerland: Lisa Stadler, Communication and Media Relations, Pro Helvetia,

International: Caroline Widmer, Pickles PR,
caroline@picklespr.com, +44 (0)7908 848 075