Flushless toilets and a pop-up shop: must-see venues at the 2023 Venice Architecture Biennale

Installations and exhibitions tackle the topics of climate change, colonialism and indigenous culture.

This year’s Architecture Biennale in Venice is whimsical, thought-provoking and inspiring. Curator Leslie Loko, of Scottish-Ghanaian descent, has drawn attention to Africa, with more than half of the participants from the continent or its diaspora.

Installations and exhibitions tackle the topics of climate change, colonialism and indigenous culture.

But with so much extraordinary culture on display, going to the sprawling biennale can be overwhelming. There are 27 pavilions in Giardini, 22 pavilions in Arsenale and 14 points through Venice.

Here’s our guide to the must-see exhibits and pavilions at the 18th edition of the international festival.

Finland announces death after flushing toilet

FinlandContribution of Finally It begins with what looks like a Duchamp-esque conceptual sculpture outside the Alvar Aalto-designed pavilion.

In a rectangular pit, a broken ceramic toilet bowl is half buried in the earth. It’s a reconstruction of an archaeological dig that „marks the toilet in history,” according to the Dry Joint Group behind the project.

Inside the pavilion, the exhibition presents a Finnish healthcare solution for the future. At the center is a wooden structure called a hoosi – a composting toilet used by thousands of Finnish people living in rural settings.

„We cannot live on a planet where billions of people use rapidly diminishing freshwater resources to flush out their waste,” says conservationist Arja Rennel.

„Huussi encourages and invites all professionals to start looking for alternative solutions that better serve the world we live in today.”

The Nordic Pavilion honors indigenous architecture

A light-filled pavilion Nordic Countryside is an aesthetic mess of reindeer skin tents, carved logs for seats and wooden huts.

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At the center of the installation are artist and architect Jor Nango’s books on tribal architecture collected over 15 years.

Girjegumpi: The God The Architecture Library is a community space that has already traveled to different locations in the Nordic region.

It invites visitors to use the pavilion as a reading room to learn about topics including Sami architecture and design, ancestral building knowledge, function and decolonization.

The Uzbek Pavilion leads visitors to a platform

A black curtain aside, the audience UzbekistanThe Pavilion at the Arsenale finds itself in a dim light with a brick wall.

The structure was inspired by the traditional building materials of the ancient forts known as Kalas in the Karakalpakstan region, although the bricks were reclaimed from the area around Venice.

The maze is also designed as a symbol of how contemporary architecture has lost its way, as buildings continue to be designed without considering a warmer future.

On a few walls, a spotlight shines on brilliant blue ceramic tiles. These enamel inserts were made by Uzbek artist Abdulvahid Bukhari, one of the few remaining craftsmen of the blue Bukhara technique.

The Brazil Pavilion won the Golden Lion

In BrazilFor the National Pavilion, curators Gabriela de Matos and Paulo Tavares reconstruct the founding legend of Brasilia, a capital city built „in the middle of nowhere.”

As they explain through text and maps, the region was actually home to the indigenous and Quilombola people who were driven out by settlers.

In the second room, there is a floor and structures made of earth (the exhibit is named „Terra”). [Earth]”) immersing the audience in the basic, ancestral materials of Brazil.

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Latvia sets up shop at the Biennale

With a very bright pavilion, Latvia’s Installation Architecture Biennale is a „supermarket of ideas” in celebration of its tenth year.

There is a checkout at the front, and the rest of the room is divided into aisles lined with colorful items.

Shaped like various supermarket items – soap, tinned tomatoes, jam – the flat cutouts represent pavilion concepts from the past 10 Biennale events.

Curators used AI technology to provide content about past exhibitions and short descriptions were printed on more than 500 items to line the supermarket’s shelves.

The supermarket has a distinct pop art vibe, reminiscent of the consumption critiques of artists like this one Andy Warhol.

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