Venice Architecture Biennale 2021 – Italian Pavilion, a preview

Place: Venezia, Country: Italy
La Biennale di Venezia
17th Venice Architecture Biennale - May/November 2021
Resilient Communities - Italian Pavilion exhibition


17th Venice Architecture Biennale, 2021 – Italian Pavilion, a preview

Anticipation of the Italian Pavilion exhibition at the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale.

Resilient Communities
Entitled  Resilient Communities (Comunità Resilienti) and curated by Alessandro Melis, the Italian Pavilion at the 17th Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale offers a reflection on the resilience mechanisms that some communities take to respond to the great global challenges, starting from those linked to climate change which is putting a strain on the sustainability of urban, productive, and agricultural systems.

The curator, Alessandro Melis says: “The Italian Pavilion will itself be a resilient community, consisting of 14 sub-communities, understood as operating workshops, research centers or case studies in accordance with two essential lines: a reflection on the state of the art in the matter of urban resilience in Italy and the world through the showing of works by eminent Italian architects, and a focus on methodologies, innovation, and research with interdisciplinary experiments straddling the ground between architecture, botany, agronomy, biology, art, and medicine.”

Borrowing the term “exaptation” – a mechanism of natural selection introduced by Stephen Jay Gould and Elizabeth Vrba in the field of biology, which indicates how organisms often opportunistically readjust structures already available for new and unprecedented functions – Alessandro Melis said that: “Heuristically, the Italian Pavilion will promote architectural exaptation as a manifestation of diversity, variability, and redundancy, challenging deterministic aesthetic homogeneity in favor of the diversity of creative structures

Onofrio Cutaia, Director-General for Contemporary Creativity of the Ministry and Commissioner of the Italian Pavilion emphasizes: “Resilient Communities proposes concrete solutions for our country. Within twenty years, our peripheries will be called upon to transform into resilient communities, which is to say communities that are capable of positively combating the current social and environmental pressures. The Italian city is a concentration of applied knowledge to draw from in order to remodel urban peripheries – the country’s priority and complex areas – in order to reflect upon the contemporary challenges raised for the future of architecture. Capitalizing on this heritage of knowledge starting from the model of the compact and ecological Italian city, and disseminating the results of applied research especially outside disciplinary settings and academia, are the challenges that the curator Melis has given us all”.

The Italian Pavilion at the Biennale Architettura 2021 is virtually carbon neutral.
To achieve this goal, the removal and integration of the materials of the 2019 Italian Pavilion for the 58th International Art Exhibition have been arranged, in addition to the permanent relocation and reuse of every structure produced.


Above: Italian Pavilion – Section “Architectural Exaptation”, curatorial installation “Spandrel”.
cover-image: Italian Pavilion, curatorial installation “Genoma”

Alessandro Melis – Biography
Alessandro Melis is a Full Professor of Architecture Innovation at the University of Portsmouth (UK) and Director of the Cluster for Sustainable Cities. Previously, Alessandro was Head of Technology and Director of Postgraduate Engagement at the School of Architecture and
Planning of the University of Auckland, Co-director of the Brain City Lab program at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, a Guest Professor at Anhalt University Dessau, and an Honorary Fellow at the Edinburgh School of Architecture.
The relevance of Alessandro Melis’s contribution to research on the resilience and regeneration of the urban fabric is corroborated by over one hundred and thirty scientific publications, by at least as many citations in popular publications such as Wired, the New York Times, The Independent, L’Espresso and Corriere della Sera, and from invitations to give lectures at institutions such as MoMA in New York, the Foster Foundation, UNESCO, the Italian Embassy in Paris, the Italian Institute of Culture in London, TED and universities such as the China Academy of Art and Cambridge.

Resilient Communities – Italian Pavilion exhibition at the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale.
Production: La Biennale di Venezia
Commissioner: Onofrio Cutaia
Curator: Alessandro Melis
Deputy Curator: Benedetta Medas


Italian Pavilion as an example of a resilient community


Italian Pavilion. Curatorial installation “Cyberwall I”


Italian Pavilion. Official poster of the “Resilient Communities” exhibition

Exhibiton Sections and coordinators
Concept Architectural Exaptation – Alessandro Melis, Telmo Pievani
Architectural exaptation – Alessandro Melis, Benedetta Medas, Paola Corrias, Alice Maccanti
Dolomiti Care – Gianluca D’Inca Levis
Decolonizing the built environment – Rebel Architette, Alessandro Melis
DESING(ING): from the spoon to the city – Paolo Di Nardo, Francesca Tosi
Architecture as caregiver – Antonino Di Raimo, Maria Perbellini
Global South – Paola Ruotolo
University: Resilience Agencies – Maurizio Carta, Paolo Di Nardo
Storia di un minuto – Alessandro Gaiani, Emilia Giorgi, Guido Incer
Italian Best Practice – Gian Luigi Melis, Margherita Baldocchi, Benedetta Medas
Laboratorio Peccioli – Ilaria Fruzzetti, Nico Panizzi, Laura Luperi
Tacit Ecology – Ingrid Paoletti
Resilience, landscape and art – Annacaterina Piras, Emanuele Monbeller
Giardino delle Vergini – Dario Pedrabissi


Images courtesy of: Direzione Generale Creatività Contemporanea – Ministero della Cultura



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