Kicking Off into FREESPACE

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Unveiling the theme for the 16th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia

On Friday, March 2nd, at Ca Giustignan, La Biennale di Venezia presented this year’s theme and structure.

With the goal of promoting architecture as something to be curious about and to desire, the Exhibition will have 71 participants, 65 counties within 7 participating for the first time, each of them proposing a project based on the FREESPACE theme.

During the kick-off speech, Paolo Baratta, the President of Biennale, thanked the curators, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, and explained how architecture can be seen as both a gift and a source of public goods.

With this year’s theme, they want to create awareness for what architecture fosters: pleasure, a sense of the city, inspiration, and sharing.

Light of the Doges Palace, example of Freespace as a gift for the community

According to Paolo Baratta, “Architecture is seen as an act of rational kindness, as a way to create a new geography.”

This is especially important these days, when we live in a virtual reality defined as a “noisy desert” that separates us from everyday problems. Baratta’s words resonate strongly in a time when it is easy to lose ourselves in digital interactions. It is entirely possible to talk to friends, order food, and work from home. In this world, community and human interaction often take place virtually.

In stark contrast to this, the 16th International Architecture Exhibition brings us architects from around the world who, according to Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, believe their “profession can transform the world into a more meaningful, beautiful, and useful place.” For the curators then, this theme of FREESPACE is deeply tied to the pure purpose of architecture. Thus, with this exhibition, they focus on the responsibility and possibility of architecture to create spaces for community, for hope, for social justice, and for the environment. ​

Arsenale, Venice. Image Courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia

The 16th International Architecture Exhibition will be open to the public from May 26th to November 25th, 2018.

Holding this incredible exhibition in this unique and historical city is an inspired decision. As the curators say, architects want to create engagement and continuity with culture of Architecture, which has the ability to represent the past, future, and present at the same time. There is no better setting than Venice in which to celebrate this.

Picture by Beatrice Pedrotti

A bench representing a gift to the community, example of Freespace


FREESPACE is a theme that involves important qualities, both pertaining to physical space and humanity. For example, it implies a generosity of spirit, intelligence, and an awareness of the Earth. Architecture is a gift to the space and to the citizens based on man-made and natural resources. More than that, FREESPACE can be democratic, political, or a free space to be exploited for untraditional, innovative, and creative uses that enrich people, landscapes, and souls.

The curators: from the left Shelley McNamara, Yvonne Farrell and Paolo Baratta


Working as a team, they ensure that the fame of the participants has nothing to do with their being accepted. Every single participant has been chosen for the quality, ethics, and innovation of their projects.

Most of all, the Biennale ensures that they remain a non-commercial exhibition that is not dependent on paid sponsorship or advertisement. Every participant submitted their project on their own and has been selected by the curators that have experience in architecture both as professors and as jury members for other important architectural awards.