Special Subject: Architecture Studies — Building the Venice Architecture Biennale 2020

Permission of instructor
Limited to 24
Preference Given to: 
MArch (also open to SMArchS, DUSP, SMACT)

This workshop revolves around the preparation of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition — Biennale Architettura 2020 to explore how exhibitions can act as catalysts of architectural research and design. 

Alongside the exhibition curator Dean Hashim Sarkis and his curatorial team, students will engage in the research and production of key components of the Biennale’s main exhibitions, which will take place at the Giardini’s Central Pavilion and the Arsenale’s Corderie between May and November next year. 

The beginning of the workshop will coincide with the public announcement of the Biennale 2020’s theme. In this occasion, Hashim Sarkis and Biennale’s president Paolo Baratta will gather in Venice for the first official press conference to explain the direction and ambitions that will pave the road of the 2020 event. Work at MIT is planned to start two weeks following the announcement. 

The workshop is designed to have students and faculty perform active roles in the definition and creation of the research-based components of the exhibition. These are components that will deal with both history and the contemporary moment to complement the exhibition of the invited participants, weaving a thread of consistency throughout the many diverse parts of the show. 

The research will be guided by the instructors, developed by the students and reviewed and criticized by invited faculty, who will also help orient and expand the research horizon and avenues. Students that successfully complete the class will be properly credited in the exhibition, book and all other public media where the work appears. The final product, nevertheless, is a collective work and will be later edited by the instructors and assigned research assistants as needed.  

This workshop will be a distinct moment of intense work during the Summer, in which students are expected to attend at least 90% of the classes. Due to the nature and length of the assignment, the work produced will continue to be developed into the following semester. Students will summarize and present the result of their work at the start of the Fall term. 

The workshop’s academic objectives include

  1. bringing students closer to the process of curating an international architecture exhibition, including them in different steps along the way;
  2. discussing research methods and validating their applicability as ways to find and process information that can be transferred into both exhibited and published material; and
  3. exposing students to contemporary questions that may impact architectural production in the years to come, while understanding the exhibition as a critical medium through which discuss such questions.