• 22 May–29 November 2021
  • International – Online exhibiton

PLEASE NOTE! The Venice Architecture Biennale 2021 opens on May 22, delayed one year due to the corona pandemic.

In 2021 the National Museum has curatorial responsibility for of the Nordic pavilion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture. The biennale is considered the world's most important architectural exhibition. 

The National Museum is collaborating on the biennale with the Stavanger-based architectural firm Helen & Hard. In the exhibition What we share. A model for cohousing, they will build a full-scale cohousing project inside the pavilion.

Biennale of Architecture 2021

This main theme of this year's biennale is How will we live together? and deals with how architects can create new communities.

Helen & Hard will create a completely new project designed especially for the Nordic pavilion. The project is based on the cohosing project Vindmøllebakken in Stavanger. Vindmøllebakken is designed by Helen & Hard, and is a unique commercial housing project based on resident participation and sustainable solutions. The project won the Norwegian government's award for building quality in 2020. At Vindmøllebakken the residents have relatively small but fully equipped apartments, several shared facilities and spaces, and a vibrant local democracy.

Visitors to the Pavilion in Venice will be able to walk through and explore a cross-section of a prototype cohousing project that will include communal and private areas. Initiating a conversation about the social and political aspects of co-living, the exhibition also presents a video by artist Anna Ihle, who is a resident of Vindmøllebakken.

A digital version of the exhibition will be available on nasjonalmuseet.no from the opening date of 22 May. Welcome!

What vi share

In the exhibition What we share, Helen & Hard continues to work with eight of the residents in Vindmøllebakken, and challenges them to imagine an even more radical development of the cohousing project: what parts of the private sphere are they willing to move out of the apartment and share with neighbours – and with the public?

"There is a great need to explore new shared housing models in the housing sector, and Helen & Hard combines environmental and social sustainability in an innovative and highly relevant way. In the past year, questions about how we live – and how it can be linked to loneliness, social meeting places and community – have become even more pressing", says curator Martin Braathen at the National Museum.

A Nordic model

The project builds on the Nordic cohousing model, which combines self-ownership and independent housing units with shared functions and community. The model was first developed in the Nordic countries in the 1970s and has since spread around the world.

The exhibition What we share is not a utopian vision of the future, but a real proposal for how to plan apartments and communal spaces in a commercial housing project. The project is based on close dialogue between architects and residents, and was created using an innovative open source solid wood system developed in collaboration with Swiss engineer Herman Blumer.

The Nordic Pavilion in Venice.
Photo: Nasjonalmuseet / Annar Bjørgli

Helen & Hard

Helen & Hard was founded in 1996 in Stavanger by Norwegian architect Siv Helene Stangeland and Austrian architect Reinhard Kropf. The firm currently employs 26 people and is known for its innovative use of wood and experimental housing projects.

Nordic collaboration

The Nordic Pavilion in Venice is co-owned by Sweden, Finland, and Norway. In 2021, the National Museum of Norway will be in charge of realizing the exhibition, on behalf of commissioners Stina Högkvist at the National Museum, Arja-Liisa Kaasinen at the Museum of Finnish Architecture and Kieran Long at ArkDes, Sweden's National Centre for Architecture and Design. 

The exhibition is supported by the Nordic Culture Fund.

Read more about the Venice Architecture Biennale 2021.