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Key details


  • 23 May 2023


  • RCA

Read time

  • 3 minutes

To coincide with the opening of the prestigious 18th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, a special awards ceremony was held on Saturday May 20th which included 4 members of the RCA community.

Emilio Distretti

Golden Lion

DAAR was awarded the Golden Lion for the best participant in the 18th Exhibition The Laboratory of the Future. DAAR - Decolonizing Architecture Art Research’s awarded installation, 'The Entity of Decolonization – Borgo Rizza' explores the possibility of critical and decolonial reuse and subversion of fascist colonial architecture through spatial practices and public art.

Emilio Distretti, Tutor (Research) at the RCA’s School of Architecture, collaborates with DAAR and contributed to the realisation of the project with research, writing and pedagogy.

DAAR, with co-founders Alessandro Petti and Sandi Hilal, was awarded the Golden Lion for the best participant for their long-standing commitment to deep political engagement with architectural and learning practices of decolonization in Palestine and Europe.

AVZ-DAAR - Alessandro Petti - Sandi Hilal-9818

Thandi Loewenson

Thandi Loewenson_Photo Andrea Avezzu_Courtesy La Biennale di Venezia_AVZ00123

Dr Thandi Loewenson, Senior Tutor in Architecture at the RCA, received a Special Mention in the category of Golden Lion for the best participant in the 18th Exhibition The Laboratory of the Future. Thandi received the recognition for her work in the ‘Force Majeure’ section of the Biennale, which represents African and diasporic architectural production.

Thandi achieved a Special Mention for a militant research practice that materializes spatial histories of land struggles, extraction, and liberation through the medium of graphite and speculative writing as design tools.


Yussef Agbo-Ola

The National Participation of Great Britain received a Special Mention in the category of Golden Lion for Best National Participation. Great Britain’s National Pavilion ‘Dancing Before the Moon’ features architectural-scale artworks by artist Yussef Agbo-Ola, an alumnus of the RCA. The exhibition explores how diaspora community rituals and cultural practices impact built space and how they can shape the future of UK architecture.

Great Britain’s National Pavilion was granted a Special Mention for the curatorial strategy and design propositions celebrating the potency of everyday rituals as forms of resistance and spatial practices in diasporic communities.

Yussef Agbo-Ola (03) - Muluku_ 6 Bone Temple, British Pavilion 2023, , Photographer Taran Wilkhu © British Council.JPG.jpg

Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli

Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli, Tutor at the RCA's School of Architecture, is President of the International Jury of the 18th International Architecture Exhibition, and presented the awards, including the Golden Lions, the Biennial’s top honours.

The International Jury_Photo Jacopo Salvi_Courtesy La Biennale di Venezia_93A3632

Biennale Architettura 2023, held from 20 May - 26 November, is curated by academic, educator and Royal College of Art examiner Professor Lesley Lokko OBE, and features many members of the RCA community including faculty, students and alumni.

Find out more here.

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