Designed as an exhibition and gathering space, the pavilion celebrates the architecture of Africa and the Black diaspora
Words by Francesca Perry
Studio NYALI, an emerging London-based architecture, design and research practice, has designed the ArchiAfrika Pavilion as part of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale in Venice. Situated in Giardino della Marinaressa, the pavilion forms a gathering space to celebrate Black and diaspora voices in response to the biennale’s questioning theme, ‘How will we live together?’
The 5x5m pavilion hosts a series of exhibitions and talks focused on the architecture of Africa and the Black diaspora. It is designed for ArchiAfrika, an organisation run by Ghanaian architect Joe Osae-Addo which is dedicated to broadening the discourse on Africa’s built environment.
A colourful tapestry of Ghanaian wax prints forms the roof of the pavilion, taking inspiration from the Jamestown Cafe in Ghana’s capital city, Accra. This language of pattern is echoed on jute panels on the pavilion’s exterior. The structure’s vibrant red and pink hues, meanwhile, reference other architecture in Accra’s historic Jamestown area.
The pavilion opened with the exhibition The Course of Empire: A Compound House Typology. Curated by Studio NYALI – founded by Nana Biamah-Ofosu and Bushra Mohamed – the exhibition focused on the practice’s ongoing research into the African compound house as an architectural typology, considering both its traditional and contemporary form. The architecture of the pavilion itself makes reference to the typology, centred around a protected gathering space, while the perimeter and four expressive corners act as seats and resting spaces.
The current exhibition hosted at the pavilion, on show until 5 November, is New Blood. Curated by ArchiAfrika and James Inedu-George, the exhibition showcases the work of emerging architectural talent from the African continent.
The ArchiAfrika Pavilion was constructed in collaboration with 121 Collective and AKT II. It is part of the The European Cultural Centre’s Time Space Existence exhibition.
Photography by Luca Bosco