the british council has revealed new details about caruso st john architects’ and marcus taylor’s winning proposal island for the british pavilion at the 16th international architecture exhibition – la biennale di veneziatheir collaborative effort responds to the 2018 biennale’s theme of freespace with the construction of a new public space on the roof of the british pavilion.

british pavilion curators 2018, adam caruso, marcus taylor, peter st john © british council, photo by lucia sceranková



the elevated piazza will offer visitors to the giardini a place to meet and a unique vantage point looking out across the lagoon. at the centre of this new public space, a peak of the pavilion’s roof protrudes up through the floor, to suggest both an island and a sunken world beneath. below, the doors of the Pavilion are open to visitors, but the building is empty of exhibits.

plan of the raft of the medusa © alexandre corréard



an island can be a place of both refuge and exile‘, curators adam caruso, peter st john and marcus taylor said in a statement.the state of the building, which will be completely covered with scaffolding to support the new platform above, suggests many themes; including abandonment, reconstruction, sanctuary, brexit, isolation, colonialism and climate change.’

the tempest, act II scene 2, caliban, stephano and trinculo dance on the seashore. artist: johann heinrich ramberg



the proposal and namely its title take inspiration from shakespeare’s tempest which tells the tale of its shipwrecked protagonists being washed up on the beach of an unknown island, which turns out to be a paradise. it also makes references to venice, and its precarious relationship with the sea, and of course the british isles, with its current questions and uncertainties. the roof of the pavilion symbolises raft which will have its own independence and serenity, lifted above the giardini.


there will be no exhibits inside the pavilion inviting the public to experience the construction like a building. there will however be a programme of events and performances.


this is the first time we have a joint commission between art and architecture at the british pavilion‘, sarah mann, commissioner of the british pavilion 2018 said.rather than presenting an exhibition, we want to offer an unmediated experience through a new piece of architecture, which offers a generous space to re ect and to come together.’

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