Image by Aleksejs Muraško

At the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, Latvia will be represented by the architecture firm «NRJA» with the exhibition «It’s not for you! It’s for the building». The creative team seeks to answer the central question of the Biennale — «How will we live together?» — by focusing on the interaction between technologies and individuals in the context of architecture.

Stories Editorial December 4, 2019

The slogan «It’s not for you! It’s for the building» invites a critical look at situations where smart devices are beginning to impose their own rules, incomprehensible to the users of architecture and often alienating people from the spaces designed for them. These situations are becoming increasingly common through the wholesale, one-size-fits-all implementation of technologies, provoking the question — who are we really building for? The people, or the building itself?


The Latvian pavilion at the Venetian Arsenale will be a tangible and interactive embodiment of the experience of encountering devices that have morphed from convenient aids into full-fledged building inhabitants that we must now learn to live with. The installation features a massive tangle of smart devices encroaching on an absurdly diminished living space, creating a claustrophobic atmosphere and satirising an architecture that has lost sight of building users and their needs.

The accompanying publication invites a reassessment of the role of technology in modern architecture through a focus on the techno-absurdities of everyday life. The publication will include ironic short stories by prominent prosaists, publicists and researchers, exploring real experiences with well-intentioned and sophisticated, yet absurd, technologies — unopenable windows, lighting that only works during daytime, ventilation systems that breed bacteria, and various other techno-absurdities. Should we blame technologies and their implementers’ attempts to subject people’s lives to their smart control? Or is it the people who are lagging behind technology?


The curators for the 2020 Venice Architecture Biennale project are Uldis Luksevics, Elina Libiete, Ivars Veinbergs, Ieva Lace-Luksevica, Zigmars Jauja, Inga Dubinska, and Liga Jumburga. The «Durdom» installation was conceived by «NRJA» in cooperation with Peteris Riekstins. The idea of the publication «It’s not for you! It’s for the building» was conceived by «NRJA» and the consulting firm «Architxt» (Olga Procevska, Igors Gubenko, Katja Firjane). The visual identity of the project was created by Aleksejs Murasko, and audio design by Gatis Ziema. The creative team also includes authors of video stories — Voldemars Dudums, Roberts Kulenko, and Elvijs Parpucis —, producer Austra Berzina, and communications expert Linda Berzina. The architecture firm «NRJA» has already represented Latvia at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2014 with the exhibition «Unwritten», dedicated to the exploration of post-war modernist architectural heritage.


The 17th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia is curated by Hashim Sarkis — architect, professor and author of several books, who has challenged participants to respond to the question «How will we live together?». In his statement, Hashim Sarkis calls on architects to model the future of architecture and urban spaces, inviting them to imagine how we might live together in the context of political and geographical divides, economic inequality and migration. The Venice Architecture Biennale will take place from May 23 to November 29, 2020.