The 2020 Venice Architecture Biennale has just been postponed until 29 August in response to “recent precautionary measures” taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Northern Italy.
This announcement comes just one week after La Biennale di Venezia president Paolo Baratta live-streamed a video in which he confirmed the exhibition would go ahead as planned on 23 May.
In a statement published this morning on the Biennale website, the organisation said: “The new dates for the Biennale Architettura have been established as a consequence of the recent precautionary measures in the matter of mobility taken by the governments of a growing number of countries around the world, which will have a domino effect on the movement of people and works in coming weeks.”
The organisation went on to say these precautionary measures could hamper the initial phase of setting up for the Biennale, which brings together architects and institutions from more than 60 countries and was expected to attract around 250,000 visitors.
“Unwilling to open an incomplete exhibition, La Biennale, having heard the curator Hashim Sarkis and in consideration of the difficulties faced by the participating countries and invited architects, has decided to postpone the inauguration,” the statement read.
The 2020 Venice Architecture Biennale is now scheduled to run from 29 August through to 29 November, shortening the exhibition to just three months instead of its usual six.
In its statement, the organisation cited concerns over not being able to realise the exhibition in its entirety as the main motivation for the three- month postponement, saying anything less would be ineffective considering the “complexity of the organisational machine, the number and importance of the subjects involved and the probable absence of many of them”.
Australia was set to exhibit at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition, exploring the year’s theme How will we live together? with a pavilion of powerfully optimistic works that foreground Indigenous knowledge and connection to context, curated by Victorian architects Tristan Wong and Jefa Greenaway along with architectural anthropologist Elizabeth Grant, designer Aaron Puls and graduate of architecture Jordyn Milliken.
Other major design events also postponed
The announcement comes as other major trade shows and events postpone or cancel their proceedings. The Salone del Mobile in Milan has also been pushed back to 16 June, as has the Frankfurt’s Light + Building, which will now be held in September and Design Shanghai, which is scheduled for May.
The New York design festival NYCxDESIGN, however, is still scheduled to run on its original date of 12-20 May.
The decision to postpone the Biennale comes as the death toll in Italy from the coronavirus rises to more than 100. This morning, the Italian government announced all professional football matches and other big sporting events will be held behind closed doors until 3 April and all schools and universities nationwide will be closed until 15 March.
More than 93,000 people have been infected with Covid-19 across more than 70 countries since the outbreak began in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.