The Carlo Ratti–curated 2025 Venice Architecture Biennale will explore themes related to Intelligens

In Venice, Italy, Carlo Ratti announced today that Intelligens is the title of the 19th International Architecture Exhibition—the 2025 Venice Architecture Biennale. Intelligens refers to the word intelligence while its final syllable, according to a statement from the Biennale, recalls “gens,” or the Latin word for people. Without getting into specifics, Ratti said the exhibition will be organized around three central themes: natural intelligence, artificial intelligence, and collective intelligence.

Since [John] Ruskin everyone has been coming to Venice, and asking how the world can save Venice. But today, maybe Venice can save the world, Ratti said at an event announcing the theme and curatorial outlook. Venice is a synthesis of different forms of intelligence—of natural, artificial, and collective intelligence. Can we use Venice as a lab for addressing climate crisis?”

Ratti continued that he wants to build an “exhibition that is 100 percent circular where everything we use is reused and recycled.” He said too that: “We want to bring architecture back into the center of the conversation.”

The chief curator further noted that, during the 2025 Biennale, the Central Pavilion will be closed for refurbishment. Rather than viewing this as an inconvenience, Ratti hopes to spill the Central Pavilion’s typical functions out into the city.

These plans were delivered after an introductory speech by Pietrangelo Buttafuoco, president of the Venice Biennale for the four-year term between 2024 and 2027. Buttafuoco’s opening words discussed the idea of “Venice as hydropolis.” He alluded to Umberto Eco, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, and Pope Francis’s recent visit to Venice as driving forces behind the exhibition’s thinking.

bridge and canal in Venice
La Biennale di Venezia Giardini (Bjoertvedt/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0)

Carlo Ratti was named chief curator of the Venice Architecture Biennale last December. His appointment follows that of Lesley Lokko, who led the curation for the 2023 iteration which explored how Africa can be a Laboratory of the Future.

In Venice today, Ratti told journalists that he is interested in creating an open source exhibition where everyone can share their ideas. We will use all of your input as curators and take into account every voice, Ratti continued. It wont be a top-down selection. It will also be bottom-up.

Ratti said this open source framework takes inspiration from Umberto Eco, and his ruminations on the concept of opera aperta, Italian for “open work.” He also said this exhibition draws from Buckminster Fuller, as well as Nobel Prize winner Herbert Simon’s philosophy about artificial intelligence.

“Enrollment at architecture schools around the world is going down,” Ratti offered. “This means that maybe people don’t see architecture as a solution to the climate crisis. So maybe a big impact we can have in this Biennale is by telling the public that the best way to tackle the climate crisis and climate anxiety is by looking at architecture and design.”

Ratti said that he cannot at this time give details about individual exhibitions. But to date, France and the U.K. have announced their theme and title. The French Pavilion will be curated by Jakob + Macfarlane under the title Living with/ Vivre avec. The British Pavilion, curated by Nairobi office Cave Bureau alongside Kathryn Yusoff and Owen Hopkins, will explore the architectures of repair, restitution, and renewal.

The 19th International Architecture Exhibition will be held in Venice from May 24 to November 23, 2025.

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