Scotland + Venice

Learn about Scotland’s participation at the Biennale Architettura over the years.

A girl in a yellow shirt looks at white postcards hanging from the ceiling in a dark room. The phrase "I wish" is written in large white letters on the wall behind her.

Scotland’s contribution to the International Architecture Exhibition (Biennale Architettura) in Venice is delivered through the Scotland + Venice partnership. The ambition of the partnership is to commission and showcase art and architecture that reflects the best of contemporary practice and thinking in Scotland.

The partnership is between the Scottish Government, Creative ScotlandBritish Council ScotlandNational Galleries ScotlandV&A Dundee, and Architecture and Design Scotland. Scotland is recognised internationally as a country that encourages and supports excellence and innovation.

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Our role

Since 2016, we have taken a leading role in developing and delivering Scotland + Venice.

We know from experience that designers shape and create better places when they work closely with the people who use them. Conversations and participation are vital.

The Scotland + Venice projects have been developed with communities in Scotland along with designers and architects. Their ideas and wishes for the future are the foundation on which we built and present Scotland + Venice.

Our relationship with the people of Venice plays a key role: we reach out to the local communities to include them in experiences and conversations of the places we make.

a group of young children play underneath a multi coloured inflatable object.
An inflatable pillow in the garden of Palazzo Zenobio. Image credit: Brian Hartley

Scotland + Venice 2023

We will again be taking a project from Scotland to the Biennale Architecttura in 2023. We will update this update as the project develops.

In front of a stained stone wall with blocked up windows and a rotten blue door stands a woman perched on a wooden stool. A small white dog in a bright pink coat is on the street next to her.
Image credit: Annan Portraits and Bash Art Creative

Scotland + Venice 2021: What if...?/Scotland

What if...?/Scotland sought to re-engage the civic role of design professions. It asked citizens across Scotland to share their hopes and dreams for the future of the places they call home. Click the link below to read more on the Scotland + Venice website, or read our blog summing up the project.

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“In the face of a changing and uncertain climate, it’s vital that conversation and participation and ambitious ideas are prioritised when we design our collective future.”

– Project Lead Ewan Anderson at 7N Architects

Scotland + Venice 2018: The Happenstance

The Happenstance was an active archive around a boardwalk-cum-climbing in the garden of Palazzo Zenobio. Click the button below to read more about The Happenstance on the Scotland + Venice website.

On the same site you can also read lead artist Peter McCaughey’s reflections on The Happenstance. And journalist Susan Mansfield wrote about The Happenstance in:

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A large group of people sit in deckchairs in an enclosed garden space at night time watching a film
Image credit: Graham Ross

The Happenstance dispatches

A series of twelve publications or ‘dispatches’ exploring the themes and learning from The Happenstance.

Explore the dispatches

“Tomorrow is the closing day of the beautiful sharing experience between Scotland, with the tireless, inspirational Peter McCaughey, and Venice. It has been an intense few months where, since the opening of the pavilion at CA ‘Zenobio, the interaction between artists and citizens has been addictive, sparkling.” – Giovanni Andrea Martini, President of the Venice Municipality

On the floor inside a chapel is a structure in the shape of a dimensional map made from wooden batons of different lengths, each standing upright. Some of the batons hold plaques with mobile phones attached. About 30 people can be seen around the structure.
Image credit: Anastasija Sirokova

Scotland + Venice 2016: Prospect North

Prospect North explored 15 community projects throughout Scotland as well as the country’s relationship with its northern neighbours in an interactive exhibition.

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In a large room with two columns and a small balcony, about 50 people are sitting and listening to a presentation. A projector screen displays the word ‘outsider’ in white and all caps.
Image credit: Sam Penn

Scotland + Venice 2014: Past + Future

Past + Future saw four groups research modernity in Scotland. The research was aimed at opening up debate within Scotland about what a modern architecture was and what it might be.

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Two young children in high vis jackets and white safety hats are building a wall from large cardboard boxes. Two young children in high vis jackets and white safety hats are building a wall from large cardboard boxes. Two young children in high vis jackets and white safety hats are building a wall from large cardboard boxes.
Image credit: Gilmar Ribeiro

Scotland + Venice 2012: Critical Dialogues

Critical Dialogues saw four Glasgow-based practices create a Scottish ‘studio’ in Venice. It looked at the social role of the architect and the creative boundaries of architecture.

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An aerial shot of a large ruin in a wooded area. The ruin is of many different shapes both angled and curved. It is mostly grey with mossy areas.
Image credit: Tom Kidd

Scotland + Venice 2010: To Have and to Hold

To Have and to Hold presented the premier of Murray Grigor’s Space and Light Revisited about St Peter’s Seminary. It was shown as a split-screen film: the original 1972 release about the working seminary alongside the 2009 shot-for-shot remake of the ruin.

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“One of the most poignant films you will ever see showing the gradual destruction of a great building over time.” – The Herald

Under a blue sky in a busy Italian piazza is a high wooden structure with steps running up to the top. People are sitting on the steps or looking at the view from the top.
Image courtesy of Gareth Hoskins Limited

Scotland + Venice 2008: A Gathering Space

A Gathering Space was a 7m-high wooden structure created from sustainable materials. It provided a temporary public forum for debate and discussion, inviting visitors to sit, pause and contemplate.

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In a historical, vaulted space are nine, low, table-like structures facing the same direction. Attached to the end of each is a slightly narrower rectangle, making the structures look a bit like small beds. Each is brightly lit with images and ineligible text.
Image credit: Andrew Lee

Scotland + Venice 2004: Landforms

Landforms was an exploration of 16 keynote architectural projects completed since the formation of the Scottish Parliament in 1999.

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Header image credit: Neil Hanna