Curators to create exhibition exploring sustainable materials

Venice 2023 Team 1 Landscape

The winning team chosen to design the British Pavilion at 2023’s Venice Biennale

The British Council has announced the team of architects it has chosen to represent the UK at next year’s Venice Biennale.

Jayden Ali, Joseph Henry, Meneesha Kellay and Sumitra Upham make up the winning team, which will create an exhibition exploring sustainable materials.

The British Council said the curators will transform the British Pavilion into “celebratory spaces” which will reveal how a greener future can be fostered for UK architecture by using principles of “care and equity over extraction and exploitation”.

Jayden Ali is the founding director of interdisciplinary practice JA Projects and a Senior Lecturer at Central Saint Martins. 

Joseph Henry is a designer and urbanist, co-founder of platform Sound Advice and works as part of the culture and creative industries team at the Greater London Authority.

Meneesha Kellay is the contemporary programme curator at the V&A museum, and Sumitra Upham is a curator and writer, currently head of public programmes at the Crafts Council.

The four said in a joint statement: “Our exhibition will explore architecture of the diaspora through a pre-colonial lens, celebrating the spectrum of architectural philosophies, making practices and material knowledge within those communities.

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“Foregrounding their currency at a time of growing social polarisation and ecological degradation, we intend to amplify voices and perspectives that have been previously overlooked in British architecture. Our pavilion will readdress the architectural canon through a joyful celebration of pluralism.”

The British Council has been commissioning the British Pavilion for the biennial festival in Venice since 1937.

British Council director of architecture, design and fashion Sevra Davis said the council’s open call was “looking forward to proposals directly addressing the urgent challenges facing society today and that would demonstrate how architecture can proactively respond”.

She added: “This commission will demonstrate how we can rethink our built environment and the architectural canon through a decolonial lens and learn from diaspora communities and cultures to create a more equitable, sustainable, healthier and joyful future.”

Last year the British Pavilion was relaunched 10 months after the event was postponed twice due to covid-19.

Manijeh Verghese and Madeleine Kessler were announced as winners in April 2019 with their proposal, The Garden of Privatised Delights.

The exhibition featured a series of six immersive spaces, each offering an interactive experience of architecture, rather than the models and drawings of traditional architecture exhibitions.