Biennale Architettura

Photos by Alessandra Chemollo. See below for the architect's projections.

Biennale Architettura

The Holy See at the 16th Architecture Biennale in Venice 2018

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Island of St George The Island of San Giorgio Maggiore

After the experiences of 2013 and 2015 at the Biennale Arte, the Holy See participates for the first time at the Venice Biennale Architettura with a pavilion spread through the picturesque wood on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore.

Promoted by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, coordinated by the Pontifical Council for Culture, curated by Prof. Francesco Dal Co and Dott.ssa Micol Forti, the project is inspired by Gunnar Asplund’s 1920 Woodland Chapel in the cemetery of Stockholm.

Architects with proven experience and different backgrounds propose and create ten chapels, investigating the possibilities offered by different materials. In designing and constructing the chapels, particular attention is given to the possibility of reusing them after the exhibition, as well as to protecting and respecting the surrounding natural space.

From Italy, Spain, Portugal, Great Britain, USA, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Chile / Serbia and Paraguay, architects adopt a new building style; chapels are usually identified as part of a larger religious space and worship environment, such as a church or cathedral, but here the chapels will be isolated and placed in a natural, abstract environment – a wood – that is a metaphor for the meandering of life.

The event is open to the public May 26 - November 25. Among the connected initiatives, see the event organized by the Courtyard of the Gentiles due to take place September 21: four internationally renowned architects discuss with the general public showing how fruitful dialogue between architecture and spirituality can be, and also investigating how to interpret the message contained in Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’.

A presentation to the press took place March 20. While Cardinal Ravasi spoke freely, a similar text is available here . An overview of the projects and the architects appears below:


Andrew D. Berman was born in New York in 1969 and founded his New York-based practice, Andrew Berman Architect, in 1995. The studio capitalizes on the qualities of place and seeks creative opportunities in its private and public projects with a focus on the realization of unique and finely executed buildings and spaces. Berman is a fellow of the American Institute of Architects and received the League’s Emerging Voices Award in 2009.


Francesco Cellini was born in Rome in 1944 and since 1987 is full professor of architectural design at the universities of Palermo and Roma Tre. He has been director of the Postgraduate Program in Architecture History Design, as well as a member of the board of PhD Programs. He is member of the Accademia di San Luca since 1993 and is its current Vice President.


Javier Corvalán Espínola, born in Asunción, Paraguay, in 1962, graduated in architecture at the Faculty of Sciences and Technologies of the Catholic university Nuestra Señora de la Asunción UCA. He completed postgraduate studies in Rome at the University “La Sapienza” and is a Ph.D. candidate at the Istituto Universitario di Architettura di Venezia IUAV.


Flores & Prats (Barcelona) is an architecture studio dedicated to the confrontation of theory and academic practice with design and construction activity. It works in rehabilitation of old structures for new occupations, in the design of public spaces with neighbour’s participation, as well as in social housing and their capacity to create community.


Norman Foster (Stockport, UK, 1935) is founder and executive chairman of Foster + Partners, a global studio for architecture, urbanism and design, rooted in sustainability. Over the past five decades the practice has pioneered a sustainable approach to architecture and urbanism through a wide range of work, from masterplans to offices, cultural buildings, airports and industrial design.


Terunobu Fujimori is an Architect and Historian of Japanese architecture, Professor Emeritus of the University of Tokyo, Research Professor of Kogakuin University, Managing Director of Edo-Tokyo Museum. Born in 1946 in Nagano, Japan, he received a Ph.D. from the University of Tokyo in 1980.


Sean Godsell was born in Melbourne in 1960. After graduation he worked in London at the studio of Dennis Lasdun and in 1994 he opened a studio in his native city. He has lectured around the globe and taught in Australia and Italy. He has exhibited in many situations, including at the Milan Triennale and the Venice Biennale. His project “Future Shack” for an emergency refuge has appeared at the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum di New York.


Carla Juaçaba (Rio de Janeiro, 1976) has since 2000 developed her independent practice of architecture and research in Rio de Janeiro. Her office is currently engaged in both cultural programs and private projects.  After graduation she worked on the Atelier House, Rio Bonito House, Varanda House, Santa Teresa House, and in other exhibition designs. The ephemeral Pavilion Humanidade 2012 for Rio+20 was conceived with theatre director Bia Lessa.


MAP Studio began in Venice in 2004 out of the collaboration of architects  Francesco Magnani and Traudy Pelzel. The studio works in the public and private spheres combining professional and research activities. Among the most recent projects we recall: the recovery of a Casale at Ferrara, finalist at the Medaglia d’oro dell’Architettura Italiana 2015; the roof-shelter for the tram at Piazzale Roma in Venice, finalist Big Mat International Architecture Award of 2017.


Smiljan Radic Clarke (Santiago de Chile, 1965) graduated from the Catholic University of Chile in 1989 and undertook further studies at the Istituto Universitario di Architettura di Venezia, Italy. He opened his own architecture firm in Chile in 1995. His work moves freely across boundaries, avoiding any specific categorisation within one field of architecture. He studies different materials, their sensory and social conditions, rebuilding stories that have been associated with the materials, in close collaboration with the sculptor Marcela Correa.


Eduardo Souto de Moura was born in Porto in 1952. In the same city he studied and worked with Alvaro Siza from 1974 to 1979. He taught at Porto and in many European and US cities. He received the Premio Pessoa in 1998, the Medaglia Heinrich Tessenow in 2001 and in 2011 the Pritzker Prize. Among his works are the Municipal Market of Braga (1984), the Bom Jesus house in Braga (1994), the Grao Vasco Museum at Viseu (1993), the Municipal Stadium of Braga (2003), the stations of the Metro at Porto (1997-2005), the Paula Rego Museum at Cascais (2009), the crematorium at Courtray (2011).