David Adjaye

The Kwaeε . Venice

Adjaye Associates . photos: © Michelle Äärlaht

Designed entirely of timber, Kwaeε’s form and materiality—comprised of wood with a black stained finish—takes on the qualities of its namesake which translates as forest in Twi. The newest of David Adjaye’s earth-based social sculptures, Kwaeε is envisioned as both a viewing platform and venue for active programming.

Taking the form of a triangular prism, the 13m tall sculpture merges doorway, platform, assembly, and window into a single, unified entity. The sculpted internal space emerges as a distorted ovoid that punctures the form to create a canopied passage for entry and exit two oculi at the north and south elevations. By minimizing solid surfaces, the all-timber structure cultivates a forest of light and shadow, creating an immersive, cave-like atmosphere.

Envisaged as a temporal device for gathering and recording, the activity within Kwaeε will extend beyond live lectures, panel discussions, and performance, and will also function as a venue for auditory experiences in which thematically relevant archival storytelling, music, poetry, recitals, debates, and lectures will be played.

Sited outside of the Arsenale Central Pavilion at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition curated by Lesley Lokko, Kwaeε can be understood as a thematic extension of Adjaye’s parallel exhibitions on view at the Giardini which features an Adjaye narrated and produced film titled ‘Lost Knowledge Systems’ as well as multimedia documentation of nine relevant projects. In the spirit of continued renewal, the form is designed as a modular, prefabricated structure that can be reused and relocated to other sites around the world.

Venice Architectural Biennale 2023: The Laboratory Of The Future

Venice, Italy

78 sqm / 840 sqft

Pavilion for live lectures, panel discussions and performances