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  3. The Ultimate Guide to the World's Architecture and Design Biennials

The Ultimate Guide to the World's Architecture and Design Biennials

The Ultimate Guide to the World's Architecture and Design Biennials
The Ultimate Guide to the World's Architecture and Design Biennials

Venice? Chicago? Lisbon? Seoul? Architecture biennials, biennales, triennials, and triennales have become a vital part of the culture of modern architecture. Every two or three years, they debut new ideas, discuss popular topics, and showcase the best of what is happening in the field for both today and tomorrow. But, with the proliferation of these events in countries around the world, they can be tough to keep track of. How many are there, and when are they? ArchDaily has you covered. Below we have compiled what we believe is a comprehensive list showing the what, where, and when of the world's architecture and design biennials, triennials, and a handful of the larger yearly events. We've also included some more in-depth descriptions of a handful that have (in recent years at least) proven themselves to be big names.

The Big Names

La Biennale di Venezia (Venice Architecture Biennale)

"Reporting the Front," the central exhibition at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu
"Reporting the Front," the central exhibition at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu

La Biennale di Venezia is easily the most well-known best-recognized architecture biennale, hosted in even-numbered years (with the longer-running and larger Art Biennale taking the odd-numbered years). The architecture-focused event has an attendance upwards of 250,000 visitors per exhibition period. The Biennale consists of two main areas: the Arsenal, a large exhibition hall, and the Giardini, a large garden housing 40 permanent national pavilions built at different periods by the various countries participating in the Biennale. Countries not yet owning a pavilion are exhibited in other venues across Venice. Pavilions and spaces are designed and curated to represent their respective countries’ perspective on the given year’s theme, chosen by the Biennale’s director.

Chicago Architecture Biennial

The outside of the Chicago Cultural Center at the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial. Image © Tom Harris
The outside of the Chicago Cultural Center at the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial. Image © Tom Harris

The Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB) is the largest architecture and design exhibition in North America. Established in 2015, the Biennale was part of mayor Rahm Emanuel's vision for a major international architectural event and cultural plan for the city. Today, it strives to create an international forum on, and celebrate the global impact of, creativity and innovation within the architecture and urbanism fields. The latest biennial featured over 141 exhibitors from more than 20 countries. 

Istanbul Design Biennial

Universal Space Program, Voyager — Humanity in Interstellar Space; an installation at the 2016 Istanbul Design Biennial. Image © Sahir Ugur Eren
Universal Space Program, Voyager — Humanity in Interstellar Space; an installation at the 2016 Istanbul Design Biennial. Image © Sahir Ugur Eren

The Istanbul Design Biennial opens its doors to all disciplines of creative industries to emphasize the importance of design for production, economy, culture, and quality of life. Being the gateway between Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, Turkey has long been recognized as a world economic, political, and cultural hub, particularly in the multicultural metropolis of Istanbul. The Biennial strives to highlight Turkey’s emphasis on innovation and design within the creative industries to enrich global design culture.

Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture (UABB)

Image <a href='http://en.szhkbiennale.org/'>via szhkbiennale.org</a>
Image via szhkbiennale.org

The Shenzhen & Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale takes an innovative approach to the traditional Biennale—the biennale takes place in two in a mode that is described as “Two Cities, One Biennale.” The Biennale serves as a platform for finding new and innovative techniques and practices and each year’s theme revolves around the city and urbanization. The focus is on the idea of discovery, rather than showcasing accomplished projects.

Lisbon Architecture Triennale

The Lisbon Architecture Triennale’s mission is to research, foster, and promote architectural thinking and practice. Topics and discussions for the festival are centered around the dissemination of architecture across geographic and disciplinary boundaries.

International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam

The International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam views itself as a means to bridge the gap between research and action. It was founded in 2001 on the basis of architecture and urbanism to be of great social importance and since has focused its themes on the future of the city. The objective is to create real-world change by bringing together professionals in key disciplines to carry out result-oriented research and the power of design to develop solutions for the city of tomorrow.

Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism

An installation by Dominique Perrault Architects at the 2017 Seoul Biennial. Image © Dominique Perrault SUBLABEPFL x EWHA
An installation by Dominique Perrault Architects at the 2017 Seoul Biennial. Image © Dominique Perrault SUBLABEPFL x EWHA

The Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism is the youngest on this list having inaugurated in September 2017, but made a splash by launching alongside the UIA World Architects Congress, which is hosted in a different city every 3 years. The exhibition brings in a wide range of fields—from sociology, geography, and economics to literature, art, theater, and film—to seek innovative design and policy alternatives in the advancement of cities.

Full List of the World's Architecture Biennales 

Europe

  1. La Biennale di Venezia (Venice. May – November. 2018, 2020, etc)
  2. International Architecture Biennale (Rotterdam. April – July. 2018, 2020, etc) 
  3. Lisbon Architecture Triennale (Lisbon. May – November. 2019, 2022, etc)
  4. Istanbul Design Biennale (Istanbul. September – November. 2018, 2020, etc)
  5. London Festival of Architecture (London. June. 2018, 2019, etc)
  6. London Design Biennale (London. September. 2018, 2020, etc)
  7. Copenhagen Architecture Festival (Copenhagen. May. 2018, 2019, etc)
  8. Oslo Architecture Triennale (Oslo. September. 2019, 2022, etc)
  9. Tallinn Architecture Biennale (Tallinn. September – October. 2019, 2021, etc)
  10. Biennale Architecture of St. Petersburg (St. Petersburg. September – October. 2018, 2020, etc)
  11. The Moscow Architecture Biennale (Moscow. May. 2018, 2020, etc)
  12. International Biennial of Landscape Architecture (Barcelona. September. 2018, 2020, etc)
  13. La Triennale di Milano (Milan. April – September. 2019, 2022, etc)
  14. Vienna Biennale (Vienna. June – October. 2019, 2021, etc)
  15. Experimental Architecture Biennial (Prague. October. 2019, 2021, etc)
  16. International Biennale of Architecture Krakow (Krakow. October – November. 2019, 2021, etc)
  17. BIO (Ljubljana. September – December. 2018, 2020, etc)
  18. Brussels Biennale of Modern Architecture (Brussels. October. 2018, 2020, etc)
  19. Balkan Architecture Biennale (Belgrade. December. 2017, 2019, etc)

The Americas

  1. Chicago Architecture Biennial (Chicago. September – January. 2017–2018, 2019–2020, etc)
  2. Ottawa Architecture Week (Ottawa. September. 2018, 2019, etc)
  3. Mextrópoli (Mexico City. March. 2018, 2019, etc)
  4. Pan-American Architecture Bienal (Quito. November. 2018, 2020, etc)
  5. Bienal de Sao Paulo (Sao Paulo. September – December. 2017, 2019, etc)
  6. Bienal de Chile (Valparaíso. October – November. 2019, 2021, etc)
  7. Bienal Internacional de Arquitectura de Buenos Aires (Buenos Aires. October. 2019, 2021, etc)

Asia

  1. Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture (Shenzhen/Hong Kong. December – February. 2017–2018, 2019–2020, etc)
  2. Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism (Seoul. September – November. 2019, 2021, etc)
  3. International Bamboo Architecture Biennale (Baoxi. September. 2018, 2020, etc)
  4. Jakarta Architecture Triennale (Jakarta. October – December. 2018, 2021, etc)
  5. Kuala Lumpur Architecture Festival (Kuala Lumpur. July – September. 2019, 2021, etc)

The Middle East

  1. Iran National Biennale of Architecture, Urban Planning, and Interior Design (Tehran. January – April. 2018, 2020, etc)
  2. Architectural Biennale Dubai (Dubai. November. 2018, 2020, etc)

Oceania

  1. Sydney Architecture Festival (Sydney. September – October. 2018, 2019, etc)

Traveling Events

  1. Media Architecture Biennale (November. 2018, 2020, etc)
  2. Bicycle Architecture Biennale (June. 2019, 2021, etc)

Are there any biennial or triennial events we missed? Let us know so we can add them to the list!

About this author
Alya Abourezk
Author
Cite: Alya Abourezk. "The Ultimate Guide to the World's Architecture and Design Biennials" 01 Dec 2017. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/883886/the-ultimate-guide-to-the-worlds-architecture-and-design-biennials/> ISSN 0719-8884
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