La Biennale di Venezia (Venice Biennale) has announced that the  opening of the upcoming 17th International Architecture Exhibition will be postponed until 22 May – 21 November 2021 in light of the ongoing presence and impact of COVID-19 around the world.

The safety of our staff, partners and visitors is paramount, and we thank La Biennale for their responsible and well-considered decision.

Work for the National Pavilion UAE’s upcoming architecture exhibition Wetland is well underway, and will continue ahead of the new 2021 opening date. We look forward to presenting our curators’ important and original research into an environmentally-friendly cement alternative in addressing La Biennale’s theme “How Will We Live Together”, next year.

Wael Al Awar and Kenichi Teramoto, Founding Partners of Dubai’s waiwai (formerly known as ibda design), have been appointed as the curators for the National Pavilion UAE at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale following an open call that attracted close to 100 curatorial proposals. Their exhibition explores how the salt compounds found in the UAE’s Sabkha (salt flats) could inspire renewable building materials.

waiwai is a multidisciplinary architecture, landscape and urban design studio founded in Dubai. Known for addressing the social, environmental, economical and technological aspects of architectural projects, the firm has worked on prominent cultural institutions including Dubai’s Jameel Arts Centre, Jeddah’s Hayy: Creative Hub, and Hai d3.

The National Pavilion UAE will present waiwai design’s exhibition at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition National Pavilion UAE of the Venice Biennale, from 22 May to 21 November 2021. Curated by Lebanese architect Hashim Sarkis under the overall theme How Will We Live Together?, the 2020 Biennale will look at architecture’s ability to engage people and communities across increasing social, economic, political and digital divides.

The project will be supplemented by a book titled The Anatomy of Sabkhas, written by urban researchers Rashid and Ahmed bin Shabib, expected to be released in May. The book will explore the ecological and socio-economical significance of these natural phenomena in detail based on case studies, personal essays, and photography. A supplementary volume edited and written by Aga Khan Award-winning architect Marina Tabassum will detail the journey of Wael and Teramoto’s research for the Wetland exhibition.