The Botanical Garden of the University of Padua at the Italian Pavilion of the 2021 Venice Biennale of Architecture


The title of the 17th International Venice Biennale of Architecture Exhibition is How will we live together? The question asks us to reflect upon new ways for us to live together in harmony through a new relationship with the environment. As such, the Botanical Garden of the University of Padua takes part in the Italian National Pavilion along with the curatorial installation Spandrel created in partnership with Alessandro Melis and Heliopolis 21.

Curated by architect Alessandro Melis, the root of the 2021 Italian Pavilion is the belief that climate change is the greatest challenge facing humanity and the work commits to showing us what Resilient Communities are and how they act.

The curatorial installation Spandrel represents the ideal meeting point between the research on evolutionary biology by Telmo Pievani and resilience in architecture by Alessandro Melis. Composed of three tree-like structures and spheres, the installation holds and protects glass tubes containing plant seeds from the Botanical Garden’s collection of the University of Padua.

The seeds on display, entrusted under the care of the University Centre for Museums, belong to the Botanical Museum’s Spermoteca Italica collection.  The installation includes 16,346 test tubes filled with seeds from both ornamental and cultivated food-related species, species used for medicinal use, as well as seeds found in the wild.

Rector Rosario Rizzuto of the University of Padua shares his thoughts, Sustainable development to protect the planet is an increasingly central topic of global attention. Even for a multidisciplinary university like ours, addressing this is a challenge. This installation reiterates a need to address such a challenge and does so as we visit the 2021 Italian Pavilion of the Venice Biennale. The work showcases a part of the Botanical Garden of the University of Padua heritage aimed at inviting the public to question the issue of climate change and possibilities for harmonious development that is capable of promoting the transformation and adaptation of our communities.”

The installation remains on display at the Italian Pavilion - 2021 Venice Biennale of Architecture from May 22 to November 21.