Neighbours_Pavilion of Switzerland_23

Pavilion of Switzerland at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia


Karin Sander and Philip Ursprung represent Switzerland

Media moment: Friday, 19 May 2023 | 11 am

Preview days: Thursday, 18 and Friday, 19 May 2023

Official opening: Thursday, 18 May 2023 | 2:45 pm

Curators and exhibitors: Karin Sander, Philip Ursprung

Commissioner: Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, Sandi Paucic (Project Leader),

Rachele Giudici Legittimo (Project Manager)

Exhibition: 20 May – 26 November 2023

Pavilion of Switzerland, Giardini della Biennale di Venezia

Philip Ursprung und Karin Sander, 2023 © Saskja Rosset

Karin Sander and Philip Ursprung represent Switzerland
at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia

Two national pavilions and a wall that connects as well as separates, are the focus of Karin Sander’s and Philip Ursprung’s project Neighbours for the Biennale Architettura 2023. By turning the architecture itself into the exhibit, the artist and the architecture historian introduce the audience to new perspectives on the territorial relations within the Giardini of La Biennale.

After an open call, the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia has chosen to entrust the exhibition of the Swiss Pavilion for the Biennale Architettura 2023 to the artist Karin Sander and the architecture historian Philip Ursprung. Their project Neighbours highlights both the spatial and structural proximity of the Swiss Pavilion to its Venezuelan neighbour and the professional bond of the two architects: the Swiss Bruno Giacometti (1907 – 2012) and the Italian Carlo Scarpa (1906 – 1978).

The Swiss Pavilion designed by Bruno Giacometti opened just over 70 years ago, in June 1952. In immediate vicinity, the Venezuelan Pavilion designed by Carlo Scarpa took shape four years later. Since the old plane trees on either lot weren’t allowed to be felled, the architects designed their buildings around the protected trees. The walls, roofs, and exterior areas of their buildings meet at the closest distance.

Karin Sander and Philip Ursprung bring out the pavilions’ interconnected ground plans, in which the structural neighbourship of the two close architects condenses:

« The Swiss and the Venezuelan Pavilion form an ensemble of exceptional architectural and sculptural quality. Despite this, they are conceived as separate because of their representative function, and thus, are staged accordingly. We are rethinking the functions of the two pavilions and their surroundings in a new light and are dissolving their borders with artistic means. In that, we question the spatial, cultural, and political demarcations as well as the conventions of national representation. In a utopian gesture, we are confronting the location with a poetic reality that momentarily gives room to a new point of view. »

Philippe Bischof, director of Pro Helvetia, about the project:

« By invoking Bruno Giacometti’s and Carlo Scarpa’s architectural heritage and the structural history of the Biennale, Karin Sander and Philip Ursprung are exploring architecture as its own form of relationship work. Their artistic intervention offers a new way of exhibiting architecture. »

Neighbours, Karin Sander, Philip Ursprung, Swiss Pavilion, 18th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, 2023 ©KS 2023

Project Team

Karin Sander is an artist and professor of Art and Architecture, and Philip Ursprung is professor of the History of Art and Architecture, both at ETH Zurich.

For their project Neighbours, Sander and Ursprung are assisted by curatorial manager Sassa Trülzsch, project leader Tobias Becker and researcher Berit Seidel.

Karin Sander

was born in 1957 in Bensberg, Germany. In addition to her teaching at ETH Zurich, where she has spent the last 15 years building up the Chair of Architecture and Art at the Department of Architecture, and is responsible for the artistic training of students, Karin Sander’s works are featured in exhibitions worldwide.

In her artistic practice, she questions given situations in relation to their structural, social, and historic contexts and renders them visible through different media. She stages locations with installations, architectural interventions, and sculptures, and creates new codes for existing systems and orders. Her works are in private collections and public galleries such as the Museum of Modern Art (New York and San Francisco, USA), the Metropolitan Museum (New York, USA), Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach (Germany), the Centro Galego de Arte Contemporanea (Santiago di Compostela, Spain), Kunstmuseum und Staatsgalerie Stuttgart (Germany), the National Museum of Art in Osaka (Japan), Kunstmuseum St Gallen (CH), and Kunst Museum Winterthur, (CH).

Karin Sander is represented by Esther Schipper (Berlin, Germany), Galerie nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder (Vienna, Austria), i8 (Reykjavík, Iceland), and Helga de Alvear (Madrid, Spain).

Philip Ursprung 

Philip Ursprung was born in Baltimore (USA) in 1963. Ursprung is an art historian specializing in late 20th- and 21st century European and North American art and architecture. His research and teaching focus on the interrelation between architecture and art in a political and economic framework.

Active as a historian, critic, and curator, Ursprung has taught at the University of Zurich, Hochschule der Künste Berlin, Columbia University, and the Barcelona Institute of Architecture. After studying in Geneva, Vienna, and Berlin, he earned his Ph.D. in art history at Freie Universität Berlin. He is a professor of History of Art and Architecture at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, where he was dean of the department from 2017-19.

Photo: © Sébastien Agnetti



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Biennale Architettura 2023_ÖS

La Biennale di Venezia

18th International Architecture Exhibition

The Laboratory of the Future

Pre-opening 18 and 19 May 2023

Curated by academic, educator and best-selling novelist Lesley Lokko

Saturday 20 May – Sunday 26 November 2023

The Biennale Architettura 2023 will be held from Saturday 20 May to Sunday 26 November (pre-opening 18 and 19 May), curated by academic, educator and best-selling novelist Lesley Lokko, who has commented: “Architects have a unique opportunity to put forward ambitious and creative ideas that help us imagine a more equitable and optimistic future in common”.

Lesley Lokko is the founder of the African Futures Institute, established in Accra, Ghana, in 2020 as a postgrad school of architecture and public events platform. In 2015 she founded the Graduate School of Architecture in Johannesburg. She has taught in the UK, in the US, Europe, Australia and Africa. She is the recipient of a number of awards for contributions to architectural education.

Austria at the Venice Biennale

Austria at the Venice Biennale

AKT & Hermann Czech
Austrian Pavilion
Biennale Architettura 2023

Previewtage: 18. / 19. Mai 2023
Ausstellung: 20. Mai – 26. November 2023

20. Mai–24. September, 2023: 11–19 Uhr
25. September–26. November: 10–18.00 Uhr
(montags geschlossen, außer am 22. Mai, 26. Juni, 24. Juli, 14. August, 4. September und 20. November 2023)

Giardini della Biennale
Sestiere Castello, 30122 Venedig, Italien

AKT & Hermann Czech, Modellfoto © Theresa Wey

Österreichischer Pavillon

Partecipazione / Beteiligung

kuratiert von AKT & Hermann Czech

Previewtage: 18. & 19. Mai 2023

Team Biennale Architettura 2023

Kommissär: Bundesministerium für Kunst, Kultur, öffentlichen Dienst und Sport

Kurator*innen / Designer*innen: AKT & Hermann Czech

AKT ist: Fabian Antosch, Gerhard Flora, Max Hebel, Adrian Judt, Julia Klaus, Lena Kohlmayr,

Philipp Krummel, Gudrun Landl, Lukas Lederer, Susanne Mariacher, Christian Mörtl,

Philipp Oberthaler, Charlie Rauchs, Helene Schauer, Kathrin Schelling, Philipp Stern, Harald Trapp

Projekt & Produktionsleitung:

Katharina Boesch, Julia Bildstein, section.a, Wien

For the 18th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, the Vienna-based architecture collective AKT and architect Hermann Czech are planning a socially effective, temporary conversion of the Austrian Pavilion. Part of the building will be open to the adjacent district and freely accessible to the people of Venice. At the centre of this architectural intervention is the question of the power of disposition over space and the social shifts that architecture triggers in its built form.


For the first time in its recent history, the population of Venice’s old town has reached a historic low, falling below the critical 50,000 mark. Spatial displacement processes and the loss of essential infrastructure have led to a steady depopulation of the city over decades. In recent years, political promises have been broken and spatial planning control bodies gradually abolished. Social housing construction has now been de facto discontinued. Local life in Venice is increasingly marginalized.


The Austrian Pavilion is located on the northeastern boundary wall of the Biennale site. The district behind it is one of the few remaining neighbourhoods in Venice still inhabited predominantly by Venetians. AKT and Hermann Czech plan to open up the historic Biennale wall, to shift the separation between the Biennale and the city into the pavilion and to hand over space to the urban public, a ​“Laboratory of the Future”. In this way, from the midst of it, the Austrian Pavilion calls upon Venice’s biggest cultural event to face up to its political and cultural responsibility as a ​“laboratory of the future” in the context of the city.


What effect does architecture have, how do social conditions shift when building is carried out? This question is posed by the central exhibit of the exhibition, the dividing wall that separates the symmetrical pavilion between the main rooms. The eastern part of the building, including the courtyard, will be made freely accessible from the city via a newly constructed entrance. It will thus be handed over to its inhabitants and local initiatives as a meeting space. The western part will remain accessible from the Biennale. There, the conversion of the pavilion by AKT and Hermann Czech as well as the relationship between the Biennale and the city will be thematized in an exhibition and an accompanying program.


Should the planned opening to the city fail due to the resistance of the Biennale and/or the participating institutions, this failure will become the political content of the exhibition. The architectural intervention for the project will be carried out, except for the connection and will become the central exhibit of the exhibition as an inaccessible empty space. The half of the pavilion that is then not accessible to the public will become visible to Biennale visitors as a missed opportunity for participation. The failure as well as its reasons will be documented and contextualized in the course of the exhibition. The political dimensions of the responsibility of cultural institutions will thus be presented to the international audience in an all the more vivid and urgent way.

“The architectural separation is not complete, because it is possible for people to hear and see each other obscurely, feel the presence of others. One participates, is involved. Distance becomes participation, from an unconnected coexistence a neighborhood might evolve.”

“Architecture is not life. Architecture is background. Everything else is not architecture.”
Hermann Czech


Born in Vienna. Studied under Konrad Wachsmann and Ernst A. Plischke, among others. Heterogeneous architectural and planning work; numerous critical and theoretical publications on architecture.Visiting professorships at Harvard GSD, ETH Zurich and in Vienna; numerous lectures and awards; solo exhibitions, including at the Architekturmuseum Basel, participation in the Venice Architecture Biennale in 1980, 1991, 2000 and 2012. His exhibition designs often make use of (existing) spatial structures to the advantage of the content: e.g.

“von hier aus”, Messe Düsseldorf 1984

“Wien 1938”, Wien 1938“, Wiener Rathaus, 1988

“Wien 1938”, Wunderblock“, Reithalle Wien 1989

“Wien 1938”, Der Wiener Kreis“, Universität Wien 2015

“Josef Frank: Against Design” (also as a curator), MAK Wien, 2015

Ausstellung Sigmund Freud Museum Wien, 2020





Directed by Óscar García García

‍VIP and professional:

Thursday , February 23 | 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Professional: 3:00 p.m. – 9 p.m. ‍

Friday , February 24 2023

General public: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. ‍

Saturday , February 25 2023

General public: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. ‍

Sunday , February 26 2023

General public: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Palacio Neptuno C/Cervantes, 42 28014 Madrid ‍

JUSTMAD is a project of Art Fairs, a Spanish company that promotes art fairs and cultural events. He has organized, since 2009, the fairs MADRIDFOTO (International Photography Fair 4 editions in Madrid), JUSTMADMIA (International Emerging Art Fair of Miami 1 edition), SUMMA (International Contemporary Art Fair 3 editions), JUSTMAD (International Art Fair Contemporary 13 editions) and JUSTLX in Lisbon (Lisbon International Contemporary Art Fair 3 editions).

JUSTMAD is directed by Óscar García García, independent curator, cultural manager, founder of PAC Contemporary Art Platform and author of the book God save contemporary art from Grupo Planeta.

Palacio Neptuno C/Cervantes, 42 28014 Madrid ‍

Metro ‍ Line 1 (Atocha Station and Antón Martín Station)

Line 2 (Bank of Spain) ‍ Bus Lines 10, 14, 27, 34, 37, 45

(Paseo del Prado) Lines 3 and 51

(Carrera de San Jerónimo – Cedaceros)