biennale 2021

The University of Padua Botanical Garden with two installations at the 2021 Venice architecture biennale


The 2021 edition of the Venice Biennale of Architecture asks, How will we live together? examines the relationship between the environmental emergencies of today and the challenges posed upon spatial aspects of architecture.

Since its inauguration in May, the Botanical Garden of the University of Padua has drawn upon these themes through its collaborative installation Spandrel, location in the Italian Pavilion and created in partnership with Alessandro Melis and Heliopolis 21.  Spandrel is composed of three tree-like structures and spheres that hold and protects glass tubes containing plant seeds entrusted under the care of the University Centre for Museums, belonging to the Botanical Museum’s Spermoteca Italica collection. 

As of August 27, the Botanical Garden of Padua has included yet another collaborative effort and original interpretation of the 2021 Biennale with, The Forbidden Garden of Europe. The collaborative installation with Studio Wild, a collective founded by two young Dutch architects Tymon Hogenelst and Jesse van der Ploeg, tells the story of invasive alien plant species cultivated by the Botanical Garden and the accompanying edited texts.

The idea of the project began in 2016, when European legislation drew up a list of 35 plant species whose biological characteristics posed a threat to native species, therefore becoming illegal to grow, trade, or transport them throughout the EU.

Using plants as a metaphor, The Forbidden Garden of Europe intends to create a parallel between the fate of plants species and that of the men and women who struggle to assimilate and find their place in Europe due to different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. A provocative question regarding regulations that limit the movement of people that draws upon a proposition to create a more inclusive post-Covid-19 European society that constitutes an open, welcoming and shared space.

The Forbidden Garden of Europe was selected through the Who is We? open call by Het Nieuwe Instituut and the Creative Industries Fund NL for the parallel public program of the Dutch Pavilion at the 2021 Biennale.  Visiting the installation is possible by reservation only Tuesday to Sunday, 12.00 to 19.00 until November 21, 2021, at Spazio Punch (Giudecca - Fondamenta S. Biagio, 800 / o).