Thursday 06 December 2018


The British Council today issues the open call for proposals to curate the British Pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia 2020, which will run between May and November 2020.

The British Council invites teams to submit a concept proposal for an exhibition that will explore contemporary architectural practice with bold ideas that inspire, challenge and address today’s most relevant issues.

It also sets out that the proposals should make full use of the unique opportunity offered by the British Pavilion and offer a new way to express and communicate fresh perspectives to a wide and diverse international audience. 

For the first time, the open call for the British Pavilion has been launched before La Biennale’s announcement of their lead curator and the central theme for 2020.  This gives the successful team more preparation time for the exhibition. They may then adapt or develop the proposition to respond to the central theme when it is announced, although this is not mandatory.

Sarah Mann, Director, Architecture Design Fashion and Commissioner of the British Pavilion, British Council said:

“The curatorship of the British Pavilion 2020 exhibition is a unique opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the rich diversity of British culture, and to present those ideas at the world’s most prestigious architecture exhibition.

"At a time of great change for the UK’s role in the world, the British Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale aims to create debate that both challenges and influences the future of British architecture. The open call is an opportunity for us to hear from the UK architecture sector about contemporary British practice and the issues that matter most."

The project requires a cross-disciplinary team, which must include a curator to lead the project and manage the team. Other team members may include architects, researchers, writers, artists, critics, along with collectives and teams from institutions and organisations. 

The lead applicant must be a resident or working in the UK and have a strong connection to contemporary British architecture, although team members do not need to be UK born.

Applications will close at midnight on Monday 18 February 2019 and up to 12 shortlisted teams will be asked to develop proposals further before being interviewed by a selection panel.  

The Architecture Selection Committee includes:

Pooja Agrawal, Co-founder, Public Practice

Eva Franch I Gilabert, Director, Architectural Association School of Architecture

Gabrielle Jenks, Digital Director of Manchester International Festival

Indy Johar, Co-founder, Architecture 00

Alan Jones, RIBA President Elect 2019

Jim MacDonald, CEO, Architecture & Design Scotland

Sarah Mann, Commissioner, British Pavilion; Director, Architecture Design Fashion, British Council

Farshid Moussavi, Founder, Farshid Moussavi Architecture

Oliver Wainwright, Architecture and Design Critic, The Guardian

For more information, including full details of the submission guidelines and timings please visit:

Images are available to download here:

Stay up to date on the open call, follow Architecture Design Fashion:

Twitter: @British_Design

Instagram: @British_Design



For more information, contact Alison Langley, British Council media centre on +44 (0)20 3285 3659 or

For out of hours media enquiries call 07469 375160.



Notes to Editor

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We work with over 100 countries in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Last year we reached over 75 million people directly and 758 million people overall including online, broadcasts and publications. We make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust. Founded in 1934 we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government.

The British Pavilion in Venice a listed building opened originally as a tea house in 1897 in the Giardini. The British Council has been responsible for the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale since 1937 and is renowned for commissioning the highest calibre UK artists and architects to present exhibitions and installations at the Pavilion.

Find out more about the British Pavilion and our previous exhibitions: