Lebanese architect heads Biennale’s Architecture Exhibition  

Venice Biennale’s Architecture Exhibition to be curated later this year by Lebanese academic Hashim Sarkis
Lebanese architect heads Biennale’s Architecture Exhibition  

The Venice Biennale’s 17th International Architecture Exhibition will be curated later this year by Hashim Sarkis, a Lebanese educator and architect who has been professor and dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at MIT since 2015.

The much anticipated exhibition is called “How will we live together?” and will be open to the public from May 22 to November 21 in the Giardini, the Arsenale and Forte Marghera areas, all in line with COVID-19 prevention measures and rules.

Sarkis had been named curator of the 2020 Venice Biennale of Architecture three years ago, but that edition was cancelled due to the pandemic.

The exhibition programme will include pavilions from Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the UAE. The exhibition will include 110 participants from 46 countries, with several countries taking part in the Biennale Architettura 2021 for the first time, including Iraq, Azerbaijan​, Grenada and Uzbekistan.

Saudi Arabia’s pavilion will be staged in the Arsenale and is to be called “Accommodations.” Its curators are Uzma Rizvi and Murtaza Vali.

Sarkis told the official press conference: “We need a new spatial contract. In the context of widening political divides and growing economic inequalities, we call on architects to imagine spaces in which we can generously live together.”

Hashim Sarkis

“The Biennale Architettura 2021 asserts the vital role of the architect as both cordial convener and custodian of the spatial contract. In parallel, the 17th exhibition also stresses that architecture inspires the ways we live together in its material, spatial, and cultural specificity.

“In that respect, we ask the participants to highlight those aspects of the main theme that are uniquely architectural.”

Now more than ever, architects are called upon to propose alternatives. As artists, we defy the inaction that comes from uncertainty to ask ‘What if?’

“Finally, as builders they draw from their bottomless well of optimism. The confluence of roles in these nebulous times can only make our agency stronger and, we hope, our architecture more beautiful,” he added.

Hashim Sarkis was appointed Dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at MIT in January of 2015. Prior to that, he was at Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD) as the The Aga Khan Professor of Landscape Architecture and Urbanism. In addition to professorships at Harvard University and MIT, he has held numerous visiting appointments around the world including the American University of Beirut and the Metropolis Program in Barcelona.

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