A pointed structure crafted from blackened wood forms the Kwaee pavilion, which Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye has installed at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale.
Overlooking the shipyard at the Arsenale, the structure was designed as a space for reflection, gathering and events.
Kwaee means forest in Twi, a dialect of the Akan language spoken in Ghana. The pavilion’s form and materiality were also designed by Adjaye as a nod to the word.
Kwaee’s triangular structure is punctured by a trio of openings, including an asymmetrical arch on its main elevation that provides access inside.
“The overall design aims to support conversation and reflection, presenting doorway, platform, assembly and window in a single, unified entity,” said Adjaye.
“By minimising discontinuity, the all-timber structure cultivates a forest of light and shadow.”
Two other openings sit on the sides of the triangle that flank the entrance. These frame views of the sky from inside the pavilion and pop against the blackened wood.
Kwaee’s wooden structure is characterised by slats that differ in length and position, forming perforations that filter in light while creating tactile, jutted surfaces internally.
The raised platform inside is accessed via an angled ramp and steps. As part of the biennale, the plan is for the pavilion to host events such as lectures and performances related to this year’s theme, The Laboratory of the Future.
“Kwaee is also a space for listening to the past, in which thematically relevant archival storytelling, music, poetry, recitals, debates, and lectures will be played,” Ajdaye said.
Curated by architect Lesley Lokko, The Laboratory of the Future is an exploration of decarbonisation and decolonisation.
For the first time, Africa takes centre stage at the event. In an interview with Dezeen, Lokko said the continent was a “powerful place from which to examine the issues that will dominate the next century”.
Elsewhere at the Venice Architecture Biennale, Adjaye’s eponymous studio Adjaye Associates has been revealed as an architect on the Neom development in Saudi Arabia.
The studio is listed in an exhibition about the controversial project, curated by Ramon Part and produced by UK studio Squint/Opera and Italian studio We Exhibit.
Other installations at the Arsenale include projects by Neri&Hu and Alison Killing, both of which are featured in our roundup of nine projects that encapsulate The Laboratory of the Future.
The photography is by Andrea Avezzù courtesy of Venice Architecture Biennale.
The Venice Architecture Biennale takes place from 20 May to 26 November 2023. See Dezeen Events Guide for all the latest information you need to know to attend the event, as well as a list of other architecture and design events taking place around the world.
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