‘Annexe’ to create Swiss Pavilion exhibition at Venice Architecture Biennale 2025 

Venice Biennale
© Axelle Stiefel – Sketch of process

What if Lisbeth Sachs had designed the Swiss Pavilion in the Giardini della Biennale di Venezia instead of Bruno Giacometti? In Switzerland’s contribution to the 19th International Architecture Exhibition, the group Annexe, which is based between Geneva and St. Gallen, questions positions of female architects in the past and present. Annexe was nominated by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia following a two-stage selection procedure.

Lisbeth Sachs (1914-2002) was one of the first registered female architects in Switzerland and a contemporary of Bruno Giacometti, the designer of the Swiss Pavilion in the Giardini della Biennale di Venezia. It is at this pavilion that the selected project team aims to revive the short lived art hall created by Lisbeth Sachs for the 1958 Swiss exhibition for women’s work (SAFFA) in Zurich. 

«Not one of the 30 permanent country pavilions at the Giardini was designed or built by a female architect. The reconstruction of Lisbeth Sachs‘ architecture is far from closing this gap. With our work we would like to create a bodily experience which opens up new possibilities,» explain Elena Chiavi, Kathrin Füglister, Amy Perkins and Myriam Uzor, who will implement the project in collaboration with Axelle Stiefel and Emma Kouassi. 

According to the specialist jury, «the project team uses the absence of female architects among the creators of the pavilions at the main exhibition site as a prompt not only to explore the lack of recognition for women in the history of architecture, but also to take a stand against the ongoing gender inequality in architectural professions and the construction industry.» Of central importance to the exhibition is not only the final form, but also the process of creation.

Philippe Bischof, Director of Pro Helvetia, followed the unanimous jury recommendation and nominated the project for the 19th Architecture Biennale 2025.  

Detailed information will be provided at the end of 2024.  

The project team 

Annexe works at the interface of architecture and performance. The concept for the Swiss Pavilion exhibition was developed by the architects Elena Chiavi, Kathrin Füglister, Amy Perkins and Myriam Uzor in cooperation with the artist Axelle Stiefel and the graphic designer Emma Kouassi.  

The selection procedure 

The selection was made in a two-stage process. First, a group of five national and international experts recommended suitable personalities and teams. These were invited by Pro Helvetia to submit to the jury a concept for the design of an exhibition at the Swiss Pavilion. In the second stage, nine project ideas were subsequently assessed by the jury in a two-step competition. 

The jury 

The specialist jury consisted of Anna Heringer (Laufen/Germany), Barbara Holzer (Zurich/Switzerland), Torsten Lange (Lucerne/Switzerland), Charlotte Malterre-Barthes (Lausanne/Switzerland) and Evelyn Steiner (Zurich/Switzerland). 

The exhibition  

The 19th International Architecture Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia is due to take place from 24 May to 23 November 2025.  

The Venice Architecture Biennale is held every two years in alternation with the Art Biennale. Switzerland has been participating in the Biennale Arte since 1920 and in the Biennale Architettura since 1991. It maintains a national pavilion in the Giardini of the Biennale. Pro Helvetia has been responsible for the exhibition at this pavilion since 2012.  

The Swiss Pavilion in Venice was designed by Swiss architect Bruno Giacometti and built in 1951/52.