The British Council presents The Garden of Privatised Delights at the British Pavilion for the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia.

We are delighted to relaunch this year’s British Pavilion exhibition, taking place at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, 22 May - 21 November 2021. 

Manijeh Verghese and Madeleine Kessler, the curators for the British Pavilion 2021, invite us to engage in the debate around the privatisation of public space in Britain today; from the pub to the playground, common land to the garden square, the high street to facial recognition technology; topics that have gained further relevance during the last year of the global pandemic.

Together, with five teams of architects, designers and researchers, Manijeh and Madeleine will present The Garden of Privatised Delights at the British Pavilion to highlight the threats to public space, propose new ideas for ownership and greater access and demonstrate the role that design ad architecture can take in supporting a more inclusive future. 

'The global pandemic has highlighted the importance of accessible public spaces and made the need to address issues of inequality even more critical. The Garden of Privatised Delights proposes proactive ways in which we can work together towards a more equitable society, including widening consultation on and inclusivity in design, to ensure public spaces are truly accessible to all.'

Madeleine Kessler

'The high street, the pub, even the public toilet are more under threat than ever before. Challenges around accessing these spaces are especially pertinent as isolation in communities is being felt even more acutely.  How public space has traditionally been designed and used needs urgent rethinking, and The Garden of Privatised Delights intends to inspire and encourage action to support those challenges.'

Manijeh Verghese 

Each room within the British Pavilion will present a new model for the future of public space through an immersive installation, designed to engage us in the debate. Watch our series of films to discover the issues, the designers' strategies and what we can do to take action. (Please note these films were filmed pre-pandemic).

Garden of Delights
Manijeh Verghese and Madeleine Kessler; Unscene Architecture, Co-Curators of the British Pavilion 2021

Manijeh and Madeleine ask how we can open up the garden square; green spaces found in cities which are usually enclosed by railings and only accessible to local residents with a key. The curators want to give the public the tools and agency to find and reclaim these spaces. 

The Decorators

Over a quarter of Britain's pubs have closed in the last twenty years. The Decorators consider how pubs can adapt to survive and how we can save them.

Ministry of Collective Data
Built Works

Built Works highlight how facial recognition technology is being used through a vast network of CCTV cameras in our cities. They propose that we can come together to take control of our data; understanding how it is captured, stored and how we could delete it, or use it.

High Street of Exchanges
Studio Polpo

Studio Polpo invites us to consider the threat to our high streets. They propose we re-think role of the high street, not just as a place to shop, but where people can come together and create value through the community.

Ministry of Common Land
Public Works

Public Works want to raise our awareness of how public land being sold off by the government into the private sector. They share their expertise on how we can protect our Common Land for now and the future.

Play With(out) Grounds

Since 2010, roughly one hundred youth clubs have been shut down in London alone. vPPR have been listening to teenagers, giving them a voice and working to understand their specific needs, so they can reclaim their cities and have access to a space of their own.

See also

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