Exhibitions and Events



With the aim of promoting the “desire” for architecture, the President of the Venice Biennale Paolo Baratta explained that this edition of the international Architecture exhibition curated by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara focuses on the subject of space, the quality of space, open and free space.

The desire to create FREESPACE can become the specific individual characteristic of each and every single project. Yet Space, free space, public space can also reveal either the overall presence or absence of architecture, if we understand architecture to be thinking applied to the space where we live, that we inhabit.

Vatican Chapels

This is the first time ever that the Holy See will participate in the Venice Biennale of Architecture. Ten chapels designed by great architects will be hosted in the woodland on the island of San Giorgio that will become the metaphor of a labyrinth. The aim: to re-open in dialogue with the world of art.

The number of the chapels is symbolic, as it expresses a sort of decalogue of presences fitted within the space: they are voices transformed into architecture that resound with their spiritual harmony in the drama of daily life, representing the dialogue and plurality of cultures and societies. Architects with different origins, backgrounds and religions have come to the island of San Giorgio with the aim of confirming “catholicity”, or rather the universality of the Church: ranging between nearby Europe, with its historically diverse configuration, and faraway Japan with its unique religious roots; from the vivacious spirituality of Latin-American countries to the seemingly secularised USA, as well as remote Australia that, in reality, reflects contemporary concerns.

“These are points of orientation in the labyrinth of life. – explains curator Francesco Dal Co – Even if it was not requested, in many of the chapels, the symbol of the cross is a recurring feature, yet these are not to be considered as Christian chapels. Beyond their shape and intentions, they all represent meeting places.” The architects were asked to maintain two fundamental liturgical elements, the pulpit and the altar, while the path between the chapels “is a sort of pilgrimage that is not only religious but also of a secular nature, pursued by those who wish to rediscover their inner, transcendent voice, the human fraternity of being together in the assembly of people as well as the solitude of the forest”.

The chapel designed by the Swedish architect Gunnar Asplund in 1920 represents common intention, as Dal Co states: “With this small masterpiece, Asplund defined the chapel as a place of orientation, encounter and meditation, seemingly formed by chance or by natural forces within a vast forest, seen as the physical suggestion of the labyrinthine progression of life, the wandering of mankind as a prelude to the encounter.”

Have a look at the photographs of the opening >>

Sean Godsell

In 2002, the influential magazine Wallpaper listed Sean Godsell as one of the ten people destined to “change the way we live”. In 2003 he received a citation from the president of the American Institute of Architects for his work for the homeless. The following year, his prototype entitled Future Shack was exhibited for six months at the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum at the Smithsonian Institute in New York. Time magazine named the architect in the “Who’s Who – The New Contemporaries” section of its 2005 style and design supplement. He was both the only Australian and the only architect of the group of seven eminent designers.

The work

The steel-framed tower and zintek® covering, bolted onto pile caps which, in turn, are locked onto wood pilings similar to those historically used throughout Venice originated from a passion for the bell towers in Venice, for their daring engineering and bold verticality set against the Venetian skyline. All four sides of the tower open to reveal the altar, and when open and seen from above, the vertical doors of the chapel form a cross. The double steel equal angle corner posts are a deliberate reference to the German architect Mies Van de Rohe, who once quipped “God is in the details”. According to Godsell, the church of the 21st century must be a peaceful, safe place, a multi-generational place, an engaging place for contemplation, self-reflection and meditation and all of these before being a space for liturgy, prayer, mass, hymn, dogma and ritual. A place where people feel at ease and willing to congregate.

How to go there

San Giorgio island is served by boatline ACTV 2, stop San Giorgio.
Main stops:

San Zaccaria (duration: around 3 min.)
Ferrovia (around 45 min.)
Piazzale Roma (around 40 min.)
Tronchetto (around 35 min.)