La Biennale di Venezia is Now Open

WORDS Celeste Jacobs


The 17th International Architecture Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia officially opened on 22 May and closes on 21 November 2021.

The theme for this year’s Biennale Architettura is “How will we live together?” This theme has come about due to the political divides and widening economic equalities we’re faced with. At the heart of it, architecture occupies space and directly ties to land occupation – an issue that requires global introspection. In this sense, there is a political and societal responsibility that requires consideration beyond function and form when erecting buildings.

This year marks the fourth time (since 2014) that Rolex is the Exclusive Partner and Official Timepiece of the event. The iconic brand is invested in architecture and will have its own pavilion in the Giardini. Attendees of the prestigious event can look forward to an exhibition showcasing Mariam Kamara’s plans for a cultural centre in Niamey, Niger. This project, notably one of her most ambitious, has come about under the mentorship of Sir David Adjaye, as part of her 2018 – 2019 Rolex Mentor and Protege Arts Initiative, which pairs up-and-coming creatives with pioneers in their fields for a year of collaboration. Mariam is the principal of atelier masōmī. Her work focuses on creating spaces that meet the needs of people in Africa, and specifically her homeland of Niger. Additionally, she also teaches Urban Studies at Brown University.

La Biennale di Venezia
The new Rolex Pavilion for the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia.

Tying back to this year, the overall theme is a great way to elevate the global concern and create harmony in what can easily become misconstrued as a field motivated by a superficial and capitalist agenda. Ultimately, there is a great potential for beauty to be created through care that extends beyond what we see from the exterior or interior of buildings. Instead, the essence of functionality is in creating a more equal and inclusive society.

Stay up to date with the latest news from La Biennalle di Venezia on their website and connect with Mariam’s atelier masōmī on Instagram.

Looking for art and design shows closer to home? Check out the Design Joburg Collective and the Cape Town Design Trail 2021.