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'How will we live together?' is the focus of Biennale curator Hashim Sarkis. Het Nieuwe Instituut asks in return - 'Who is We?' and provides an answer, presenting new perspectives on urban development in which the starting point for design is the cohabitation of people and more-than-humans, from animals and plants to soil life and artificial cognitive systems.

Who is We? is based on the research and practices of architect Afaina de Jong and artist Debra Solomon. Their contributions argue that a fundamental curiosity about the 'other', including other forms of life, is a condition for the emergence of a new quality in cities and societies. Afaina de Jong develops projects under the title The Multiplicity of Other to address the dominance of a single-sided view of cities, identifying the multiform human presence as fundamental for the city. Debra Solomon, who coined the term Multispecies Urbanism, emphasises the importance of the more-than-human by developing socio-ecological urban interventions, seeing soil and soil life as the foundation of society. With these contributions the pavilion offers powerful plea against monoculture – plurality and polyphony are a prerequisite for our existence. 

Het Nieuwe Instituut programmatically links the ambitions of the Dutch pavilion in Venice to regional and national contexts through collaborations with the City of Amsterdam, the Creative Industries Fund NL and others.

Values for Survival

In order to connect the themes to current spatial issues beyond the pavilion and La Biennale, Het Nieuwe Instituut has invited Professor Dr Caroline Nevejan, Chief Science Officer of the City of Amsterdam (, to curate a parallel public research programme with the title Values for Survival.

Open Call

Het Nieuwe Instituut and the Creative Industries Fund NL have issued an Open Call for the parallel programme, enabling architects and urban planners to submit and carry out a contribution to the theme. In December 2019 Het Nieuwe Instituut and the Creative Industries Fund NL selected three design teams: Failed Architecture, Bureau LADA en Studio Wild. With the Open Call, Het Nieuwe Instituut and the Creative Industries Fund NL aim to promote knowledge and contribute to the development of research in the field of architecture and urbanism.


22/05 – 21/11/2021

Giardini, Venice

More information via the Biennale Architettura 2021 website

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
Eric Roelen
Caroline Nevejan, Chief Science Officer City of Amsterdam; Klaas Kuitenbrouwer, senior researcher Het Nieuwe Instituut