Dodecannale: What is the point of architecture biennales?

A public discussion on stage exploring the question of the architecture festival


02:00pm, Sunday, 7 April 2019


03:30pm, Sunday, 7 April 2019


6 Cork Street, 
Mayfair, London


This is a past event

Across the world the number of architectural talks, exhibitions, parties, biennials and triennials is increasing exponentially. The past decade alone has seen the launch of major architecture festivals including in Oslo, Chicago, Seoul and Sharjah. There is evidently a market for all this cultural production but the question remains as to what deep purpose it serves?

Some will answer that it sheds light on urgent questions, often missed in the frenetic world of practice while serving as a means of introducing a general audience to a world of architectural ideas and fostering international collaboration. Exhibitions and conferences which comprise architecture festivals reflect on and expand the realm of straight practice.

Others see the expansion of the biennial bubble as evidence of a profession that is content to exchange the challenges of making real architecture for the comforts of the academic echo chamber delivering exhibitions which struggle to live up to the experience of the real deal –after all, who can say they've been moved by an architecture exhibition as much as a work of architecture itself?

Where is the balance to be struck? How can architectural culture remain adventurous, inclusive and relevant?

This public discussion explores the purpose and potential of the architecture festival with the curatorial teams of fives major architecture biennales and triennials all opening this year. 

With contributions from, Francisco Sanin & Beth Hughes (Seoul), Moad Musbahi & Katarzyna Wlaszczyk (Sharjah), Éric Lapierre (Lisbon), Matthew Dalziel & Phineas Harper (Oslo), and Sepake Angiama (Chicago)



This event is being held as part of the Alternative Histories exhibition, curated by Jantje Engels and Marius Grootveld in collaboration with Drawing Matter and the Architecture Foundation.