Architecture on Display

A research initiative and publication series exploring the history of the Venice Biennale of Architecture and the relationship between architecture and display


Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Curatorial practice
  • Design
  • Memory
  • Politics / Economics

Organizing Institutions


Contributing Institutions

Architectural Association, Graham Foundation, Storefront for Art and Architecture, and Dark Side Club


Aaron Levy, William Menking, and others

Opens to public





Fondazione Giorgio Cini
Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore
30124 Venezia

On the web


50% Formal - 50% Informal

Slought is pleased to announce "Architecture on Display," a new publication featuring a living history of the Venice Architecture Biennale, published by the Architectural Association in London. A reception in celebration of its release will take place on Friday, August 27, 2010 from 11am-1pm at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice, Italy.

"Architecture on Display" is the first publication to result from a two-part research initiative of the same name. Organized by Aaron Levy and William Menking on behalf of Slought and the Architectural Association, it builds upon their experience organizing Into the Open, the US Pavilion at the 2008 Venice Architecture Biennale, together with Andrew Sturm.

The project also explores architecture's vexed relationship with its publics, and coalesces around a simple premise: architecture is something that problematizes its own display. "Architecture on Display" does not seek to recapitulate exhibitions themselves, but rather explore the questions that exhibitions raise, with the hope of offering a model for future curatorial endeavours. In structuring this research initiative around open-ended conversations, rather than commissioned positions or edited statements, we critique the notion that curating is a specialized discourse or a passive staging of existing knowledge.

You are invited to consult the media and documentation archived on this site, and to continue the conversation in your own home, community and places of work, and with colleagues, friends and strangers.

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Phase 1 (2009-2010)

The first phase of the research initiative explores the history of architectural display at the Venice Architecture Biennale, through a series of unprecedented interviews with the directors who established its particular discourse. Since its origins in the 1970s, it has become one of the most prestigious forums for architectural discourse today, and has served as a model for a range of international exhibitions. The interviews conducted for the project recover the forgotten history of that institution and explore its indebtedness to the social and political movements of the late 1960s.

A published version is available from AA Books and the Architectural Association (London, 2010), or preview a digital version of this publication online at Slought.

Phase 2 (2010-2011)

The findings that emerged from the first phase, together with a new generation's interest in questioning architecture on display, act as the catalyst for the second phase, which moves beyond the biannual spotlight on the lagoon of Venice to foreground other critical positions. The second phase assumes a dialogic approach, one that reflects the process of refining and rethinking one's practice on an ongoing basis and in discussion with others. Slought Foundation partnered with the Dark Side Club in Venice (August 28, 2010), the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York (November 7, 2010), the Architectural Association in London (March 7, 2011), and the Graham Foundation in Chicago (April 27, 2011) in organizing four conversations over meals. Forty practitioners, including architects and designers, theorists and historians, editors and publishers, directors and funders, and students and professors, explored the relation of architecture to display and the importance of cultivating critical and creative publics. They provide critical perspectives and methodologies that help mitigate the paucity of contemporary discourse on architectural display.

A published version is available from AA Books and the Architectural Association (London, 2012), or preview a digital version of this publication online at Slought.


Phase 1: Vittorio Gregotti, Paolo Portoghesi, Francesco Dal Co, Kurt W Forster, Massimiliano Fuksas, Hans Hollein, Richard Burdett, Deyan Sudjic, Aaron Betsky and Kazuyo Sejima, as well as the current president of the Venice Biennale, Paolo Barrata.

Phase 2: Aaron Betsky, Aaron Levy, Abaseh Mirvali, Alexander Eisenschmidt, Alexander Lehnerer, Andre Singer, Andres Lepick, Ariane Lourie Harrison, Beatrice Galilee, Beatriz Colomina, Brett Steele, Charles Renfro, Eva Franch i Gilabert, Florian Idenburg, Francine Houben, Ingrid Schroeder, Jan Nauta, Jason Schupbach, John Palmesino, Kari Rittenbach, Ken Saylor, Lea-Catherine Szacka, Liam Young, Lisa Lee, Lydia Kallipoliti, Mark Cousins, Mark Wasiuta, Mark Wigley, Martin Beck, Mary Jane Jacob, Matteo Cainer, Michael Young, Nader Vossoughian, Odile Decq, Olympia Kazi, Penelope Dean, Peter Cook, Prem Krishnamurthy, Sam Chermayeff, Sam Jacob, Sarah Entwistle, Sarah Herda, Scrap Marshall, Sean Griffiths, Shohei Shigematsu, Shumi Bose, Shumon Basar, Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss, Theaster Gates, Tony Fretton, Tricia van Eck, Vanessa Norwood, William Menking, and Yael Reisner.


Brett Steele and Roberta Jenkins (Architectural Association), Sarah Herda and Ellen Hartwell Alderman (Graham Foundation), Eva Franch (Storefront for Art and Architecture), and Robert White (Dark Side Club).

Editorial Assistance

Megan Schmidgal, Clare Kobasa, Andreea Bailuc (Slought), Thomas Weaver (AA Publications), AA Print Studio, Shumi Bose.


Related Programs

Learn about associated programs

Related publications

Editors Aaron Levy and William Menking explore the social and political history of the Venice Architecture Biennale and its responsiveness to the 1960s through unprecedented interviews with Paolo Portoghesi, Vittorio Gregotti and other founding directors.

Editors Aaron Levy and William Menking explore the relationship between architecture and display through four conversations in four cities with forty leading designers, theorists, editors, curators and funders.

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