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Competition: Finnish pavilion at Venice Biennale 2020

An international contest is being held for the Pavilion of Finland at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2020 (Deadline: 8 August)

Open to individuals and cross-disciplinary teams – the competition will select a €40,000 exhibition concept for the interior of Finland’s landmark Alvar Aalto-designed 1956 pavilion within the Giardini Biennale Park at next year’s architecture festival.

The open call – organised by Archinfo Finland – will be judged by New York-based curator Beatrice Galilee; Milan and Lausanne-based writer Anniina Koivu; and Tuomas Siitonen, an architect frommHelsinki. Participating teams must feature a Finnish citizens or person based in Finland.

Pavilion of Finland at the Venice Architecture Biennale

Pavilion of Finland at the Venice Architecture Biennale

Source: Image by Ugo Carmeni

Pavilion of Finland at the Venice Architecture Biennale

The commissioner, jury chair and director of Archinfo Finland, Hanna Harris said: ‘We are looking forward to a wide range of exhibition proposals that stem from topical issues relevant to Finnish architecture while resonating with a wide international audience and the global architecture community.

‘The winning proposal will be suited for presentation in the context of the Venice Biennale and take into consideration the special nature of the pavilion itself.’

The Venice Biennale is a major architecture festival which has been held every two years since 1980. The exhibition occupies the former Venetian Arsenal and the Giardini Biennale Park which features a range of landmark national pavilions including the Finnish complex.

The Finnish pavilion, next to the park’s main exhibition space, was constructed in 1956 by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. The country is also represented by the Nordic Pavilion which was designed by Sverre Fehn and completed in 1962.

Pavilion of Finland at the Venice Architecture Biennale

Pavilion of Finland at the Venice Architecture Biennale

Pavilion of Finland at the Venice Architecture Biennale

Last year’s Finnish pavilion, curated by Archinfo Finland, focussed on 100 years of Finnish library architecture leading up to the opening of the new Helsinki Central Library Oodi by ALA Architects. Next year’s exhibition will be curated by Archinfo Finland for the second year running.

Applications should include a completed form in English and three A3-sized boards featuring text and images. Six shortlisted teams will receive €500 each to further develop their concepts during the competition’s second phase.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for applications is 8 August

Contact details

Email: venice@archinfo.fi

Visit the competition website for more information

Q&A with Hanna Harris and Tuomas Siitonen

The director of Archinfo Finland and commissioner of Finland’s exhibition at the Venice Biennale2020, and an architect and selection panel member discuss their ambitions for the competition

Hanna Harris and Tuomas Siitonen

Hanna Harris and Tuomas Siitonen

Hanna Harris and Tuomas Siitonen

Why are your holding an international contest for the Finnish pavilion at the 2020 Venice biennale?

HH: Openness is the Finnish way – we already have a strong tradition of open architectural competitions. However, the Pavilion of Finland has not usually been appointed through an open call. We felt that for 2020, the time was right to open the process. There is currently an active discussion going on in Finland about curating and exhibiting architecture. There is also a plan to establish a new architecture and design museum in Helsinki and with it develop how architecture tells stories and offers perspectives on the world. With this call, we want to work together with the chosen team to develop how to exhibit and communicate about architecture

What is your vision for the next Finland pavilion

HH: We are looking forward to a wide range of exhibition proposals that stem from topical issues in or relevant to Finnish architecture while resonating with a wide international audience and the global architecture community. Naturally, the winning proposal will be suited for presentation in the context of the Biennale, but it will also need to take into consideration the scale and limitations of the exhibition pavilion itself. Measuring only approximately 80 m2, the Pavilion of Finland was designed by architect Alvar Aalto and completed in 1956, which makes it a historically and culturally prestigious pavilion building. It was originally intended as a temporary structure but is now listed. Furthermore, we wish to appoint a project that seriously works toward a sustainable delivery of an international exhibition in Venice.

Pavilion of Finland at the Venice Architecture Biennale

Pavilion of Finland at the Venice Architecture Biennale

Source: Image by Ugo Carmeni

Pavilion of Finland at the Venice Architecture Biennale

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply

HH: We will accept submissions by individuals or cross-disciplinary teams that may include, e.g. architects, researchers, writers, artists, curators or critics. The team’s experience level can vary, but the team leader or curator should have experience of exhibiting, curating or working on exhibitions in Finland or internationally. Also, the team must include one or more members who are Finnish citizens or based in Finland.

Are there any other recent international pavilion projects you have been impressed by?

TS: I quite liked the Belgian Pavilion by Rotor in the Venice Biennale 2010. The salvaged building parts put up on walls were aesthetically interesting and thought-provoking, and the exhibition worked well within the biennale context. I think any exhibition there should function on multiple levels, one being the first impression that lures you in, with no need to read and understand anything. Most people spend probably five to ten minutes in one pavilion. The best ones are those that you can somehow grasp in that short time but, if you wish to stay longer, also provide depth and food for thought. The Rotor pavilion did precisely that for me.

Pavilion of Finland at the Venice Architecture Biennale

Pavilion of Finland at the Venice Architecture Biennale

Source: Image by Ugo Carmeni

Pavilion of Finland at the Venice Architecture Biennale