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On 20 May 2021, the Dutch pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia will open, one year later than planned. As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, Het Nieuwe Instituut will not be able to safely invite visitors to the opening in Venice. This offers the opportunity to develop a hybrid opening that is more freely accessible, while still doing justice to the theme of the pavilion and the efforts of all those involved.

This is why Venice comes to you from midday on 20 May in a digital programme with outgoing Minister of Education, Culture and Science Ingrid van Engelshoven, Urban Director Amsterdam Mavis Carrilho , Guus Beumer, Francien van Westrenen, Afaina de Jong, Debra Solomon, Caroline Nevejan, Mike Emmerik, Simone Rots, Lada Hršak, Chiara Dorbolò, Daphne Bakker, Tymon Hogenelst, Jesse van der Ploeg, Mistah Isaac, Sirishkumar Manji and Reinier van Houdt.

Who is We?

Together with architect Afaina de Jong and artist Debra Solomon, Het Nieuwe Instituut presents Who is We? in response to the central theme of the Biennale, 'How will we live together?' While 'we' seems to imply inclusion, it often represents a very singular perspective. At a time when social and ecological urgencies demand immediate care and action, it is fundamental to regard 'we' as an even more pluralised pronoun that encompasses all humans and non-humans such as soil, plants, animals, and microbes. This position should guide all human behaviour, but Who is We? specifically calls for architects and urbanists to commit to this plurality by presenting an empathic plea against monoculture and homogeneity. Who is We? illustrates that polyphony and plurality create the relations and interactions essential to building just and resilient societies and cities.


  • 12:00 - Official opening of the pavilion by Ingrid van Engelshoven, outgoing Minister of Education, Culture and Science; Introduction by Guus Beumer, commissioner and Francien van Westrenen curator of the pavilion; Presentation of Values for Survival, the research programme created with the City of Amsterdam, by Mavis Carrilho, Urban Director Amsterdam, and Caroline Nevejan, Chief Science Officer for the City of Amsterdam; Presentation of The Polder of Babel: A Superdiverse City in the Anthropocene, the community of learning created with the City of Rotterdam, by Mike Emmerik and Simone Rots, Independent School for the City Rotterdam
  • 13:00 - The Multiplicity of Other by Afaina de Jong, compilation of works.
  • 14:00 - Multispecies Urbanism by Debra Solomon, compilation of works. 
  • 15:00 - Presentation of the design teams selected to develop research proposals as part of the parallel public research programme in cooperation with Creative Industries Fund NL – Failed Architecture, Bureau LADA, and Studio Wild
  • 16:00 - Presentation of The Polder of Babel by the Independent School for the City by Mike Emmerik 
  • 17:00 - Presentation of Values for Survival Cahier 3: Tuning to Rhythm, with an interview by Farid Tabarki, video impression by Steven Elbers and a live concert with Sirishkumar Manji (tabla, vocal), Mistah Isaac (guitar, vocal), Reinier van Houdt (piano). An online improvisation between different rhythm traditions, overcoming delay, sharing the first beat, offering an entrance to each other and rhythm as a uniting force in diversity is explored. With thanks to Source Elements for the networked music support

Digital exhibition

The opening programme takes place on the Who is We? digital platform which functions as an online exhibition during the Biennale. Designed by RNDR based on the graphic identity by Richard Niessen, the platform presents the work in the pavilion in a digital environment. The website is accessible to the public from 12.00 noon (CEST) on Thursday 20 May.


12:00 – 18:00

Who is We? digital platform


Register via Eventbrite

Guus Beumer, artistic director Het Nieuwe Instituut
Francien van Westrenen, head of Agency Het Nieuwe Instituut
Afaina de Jong, architect and researcher; Debra Solomon, artist and researcher
Richard Niessen
Laura Pappa, Robert Milne
Juan Arturo García
Caroline Nevejan, Chief Science Officer City of Amsterdam; Huda AbiFarès, graphic design and co-editor
Mike Emmerik, Simone Rots, Independent School for the City
Lada Hršak, Bureau LADA; Chiara Dorbolò and Daphne Bakker, Failed Architecture; Tymon Hogenelst and Jesse van der Ploeg, Studio Wild