Curator hopes second delay will give architects’ work ‘time and vigour it truly deserves’

Droneport at Venice - the Norman Foster Foundation

Source: Nigel Young and The Norman Foster Foundation

The Venice Bieennale in 2016 - with Norman Foster’s droneport proposal 

The Venice Architecture Biennale, which was due to open this weekend, has been postponed till next year.

It is the second time the 17th international festival’s opening has been delayed. In March organisers pushed the date back from May 23 to the end of August because of travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus outbreak in Italy.

Now curator Hashim Sarkis has acknowledged that continuing uncertainties mean it remains impossible for the show, called How Will We Live Together?, to be staged this year.

The new dates are Saturday May 22 to Sunday November 21.

Participants from 60 countries as well as 130,000 visitors had been due to descend on Venice.

In a statement issued yesterday organisers said it was impossible to move forward due to the persistence of a series of objective difficulties caused by the effects by the health emergency.

Festival president Roberto Cicutto said he had received many messages asking for a postponement to 2021.

He said: “The last few days have clarified the real state of the situation we are all facing.

“With the utmost respect for the work done by all of us, the investments made by the participants, and considering the difficulties that all countries, institutions, universities, architectural studios have met together with the uncertainty of the shipments, personal travel restraints and covid-19 protective measures that are being and were be adopted, we have decided to listen to those, the majority, who requested that the Biennale Architettura be postponed.”

He said Venice would stage a few architectural events this autumn addressing the curator’s question of How Will We Live Together?, which he described as more relevant than ever.

Manijeh Verghese and Madeleine Kessler, curators of British Pavilion ay Venice 2020_c_Cristiano Corte

Source: Cristiano Corte

Manijeh Verghese and Madeleine Kessler, curators of the British Pavilion

Curator Hashim Sarkis added: “I am deeply moved by the perseverance of all the participants during the last three months. I hope that the new opening date will allow them first to catch their breath, and then to complete their work with the time and vigour it truly deserves.

“We did not plan it this way. Neither the question I asked nor the wealth of ways to respond to it were meant to address the crisis we are living through, but here we are.

“We are in some ways fortunate because we are well equipped to absorb the immediate and longer-term implications of the crisis into the Biennale Architettura 2021. The theme does also provide us with the possibility to respond to the pandemic in its immediacy. This is why we will return to Venice in the coming months for a series of activities devoted to the architecture.”

>> Also read: Coronavirus hits Venice Biennale and Norman Foster event

>> Also read: British Pavilion curators name collaborators


Among the disappointed participants are the curators of the British Pavilion, Manijeh Verghese and Madeleine Kessler of Unscene Architecture, who won the job in April last year with their proposal, The Garden of Privatised Delights.

They asked five practices to collaborate with them: vPPR, The Decorators, Studio Polpo, Public Works and Built Works.

In a statement Verghese and Kessler said they supported the ”responsible decision” to postpone.

They said: ”We are looking forward to continuing to explore the themes within the British Pavilion and beyond over the coming year, as widening access to privatised public space becomes ever more relevant while we adjust to living with covid-19 longer term.”