La Biennale di Venezia

Turkey Pavilion Presents Architecture As Measure at La Biennale di Venezia


The Pavilion of Turkey presents Architecture as Measure at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia.

Curated by Neyran Turan and coordinated by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV), the Pavilion of Turkey is titled ‘How Will We Live Together?’ and taking place from May 22 to November 21, 2021.

Taking curator Neyran Turan’s recently published book Architecture as Measure (New York and Barcelona: Actar Publishers, 2020) as a theoretical preamble, the exhibition positions architecture as a measure that can help assess our place on Earth and our role in relation to those with whom we live together: as architects with the actors of other disciplines and domains of work, and as a species alongside more-than-human others. Presented through an installation, an online publication, and storytelling, Architecture as Measure focuses on the politics and nuances of the seemingly mundane aspects and sites of architectural construction, juxtaposing them with their planetary counterparts through geographies of resource extraction, material supply chains, maintenance and care in Turkey and beyond.

The installation designed by NEMESTUDIO titled Four Dioramas comprises a quartet of rooms. Each diorama stages both a generic site of architecture with banal details and a specific mise-en-scène of an imaginary story taking place in Turkey. Diorama of Quarry is a marble quarry abandoned after centuries of resource extraction in the old land. Diorama of Logistics is a large warehouse enabling a massive transit during a multi-species migration to a new land. Diorama of Maintenance and Care is a site of repair in the new land, where both the built structures and the endangered more-than-human beings are continually given maintenance and care. Diorama of Formwork is a site of reconstruction for the future inhabitants of the Earth.

Visitors can walk inside the dioramas as if they are in the interior space of an architectural model. As the dioramas collide the architectural and the planetary, the human and the more-than-human, the banal and the spectacular, and the everyday and the mythical, ideas of foreground and background are constantly flipped and negotiated.

In addition to the installation, the exhibition extends onto a website as its main publication platform. Exploring topics of focus through four different formats—Paperwork, Episodes, Conversations, and Essays—the website presents content written by the Pavilion’s curatorial team and the invited contributors, published periodically over the course of the biennial. The dioramas in the pavilion showcase selected published pamphlets from the website publication, where they become part of the mise-en-scènes of the stories depicted. 

Turkey pavilion RMphotostudo

Architecture as Measure is curated by Neyran Turan. Assistant curators are E. Ece EmanetoğluMelis UğurluBetsy Clifton, and Samet Mor. Exhibition design is by NEMESTUDIO. The editorial assistant is Ian Erickson. Visual identity and graphic design are by Paleworks (Yağmur Ruzgar and Ozan Akkoyun). The Pavilion of Turkey is coordinated by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV), co-sponsored by Schüco Turkey and VitrA, and realised with the contribution of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey.

The Pavilion of Turkey has taken part in the International Architecture Exhibition since 2014, thanks to the acquisition of the permanent venue at Sale d’Armi, Arsenale on the initiation of the İKSV and with the support of 21 sponsors.


In his message to the press, İKSV Chairman Bülent Eczacıbaşı said: “The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts has been working since March 2020 to ensure the continuation of artistic production during the pandemic and the sustainability of our contributions to culture and the arts. In collaboration with diverse institutions, we are using new methods to expand access to art. We earnestly believe that culture and art make us stronger in times of adversity because they nourish our intellect and remind us that, whatever the situation, we are part of a universal whole.”

Özgül Özkan Yavuz, Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism of Turkey, said: “Our ministry has been supporting our county’s exhibitions at La Biennale di Venezia since 1991. Our exhibition at the International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia is a very good example of an achievement that has been realised by cooperation and collaboration among the public and private sectors and civil society. We make an impression on one of the astonishing international platforms and we share our country’s past and contemporary experience on arts and architecture. The collaboration that blossoms out of our ministry’s contributions, the efforts of İKSV, and the supports of our sponsors is the key factor of our success here. I hope our exhibition reaches many people around the world, and I congratulate everyone who contributed to this exhibition.”

Zeynep İnsel Muratoğlu, Marketing & Corporate Communications Director of Schüco Turkey, said: “It has been exactly seven years since Turkey took part in the International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia for the first time with a national pavilion. In these past seven years, we have not only observed the increasing influence of trends such as green buildings, smart cities or minimalism, but we have also begun to see people returning to nature more as a result of the pandemic that suddenly entered our lives and upset our balances last year. I believe that ‘alternative debates on the functioning of architecture,’ one of the definitions Neyran Turan uses for the project Architecture as Measure, coincides with the soul of the times we live in. I would like to express our feelings of pride in co-sponsoring this esteemed event since the first day for our country under the coordination of İKSV.”

On behalf of VitrA, Özgen Özkan, Eczacıbaşı Building Products CEO, said: “I represent a brand with a production, management and design philosophy that takes responsibility for conserving the planet’s resources. So I’m very excited that on this fourth year of our support for the Pavilion of Turkey, the theme addresses the extremely timely and pressing issue of climate change from an architectural perspective. Whether it’s because of climate change or the pandemic, architects have much greater responsibilities now with respect to humanity and the planet. It’s time for us to follow the new courses they suggest. We hope that 2021 will be the start of a new era in which we discover new and beautiful ways to embrace our unique planet and its extraordinary diversity of life.”

Curator Neyran Turan said: “When we started working on the project in 2019, we were not aware of the process in front of us because of the pandemic. The extension of the project over such a long period of time gave us a chance to reflect on the premise of the project and its relevance. We are happy to be able to share our project with the visitors and our wider audience today. Our project aims to rethink architecture’s relation to the world, in which it is more of an agent than a mere respondent. The pandemic has drastically changed the way we relate to our environment and one another and made more apparent and visible the problems that were already there before. In that sense, we hope that our project, which we see as a series of platforms that can provide different encounters, will lead to the kind of dialogues we aspire to and enable other discussions in the future.”

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