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The Garden of Privatised Delights

7 Apr–15 Oct 2022


The 2021 British Pavilion exhibition is coming home!

The Building Centre, the Architectural Association School of Architecture, the Museum of Architecture, and the British Council have come together to bring the 2021 British Pavilion from the 17th International Architecture Exhibition at la Biennale di Venezia – to London.

Commissioned by the British Council and curated by Madeleine Kessler and Manijeh Verghese of Unscene Architecture, the exhibition calls for new thinking around privately owned public space in cities across the UK. It challenges the polarisation of private and public organisations and instead poses solutions on how they might work together to improve use of, access to and ownership of public spaces.

Taking inspiration from Netherlandish artist Hieronymus Bosch’s triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights, the exhibition explores the UK’s privatised public space as a non-binary issue. As Bosch explored the middle ground of Earth between the extremes of Heaven and Hell, the curators suggest privatised public space also sits between two extremes: the utopia of common land before the Enclosures Act of the 18th century and the dystopia of total privatisation.

The themes of the exhibition are based on very British issues – including pubs, high streets, garden squares and toilets – with seven different types of privatised public spaces reimagined as inclusive, immersive experiences. 

Five teams of designers have created these immersive spaces including:


  • Publicani by The Decorators - could the pub be more than a place for drinking and become a versatile centre for civic action?
  • Ministry of Collective Data by Built Works - could we rethink facial recognition technology and free our collective data for public benefit?
  • High Street of Exchanges by Studio Polpo - could the high street go beyond commercial interests to become a place of diverse social exchange?
  • Ministry of Common Land by Public Works - could we use citizen’s assemblies to develop new strategies for land ownership and use?
  • Play With(out) Grounds by vPPR - can we design new spaces in the city for teenagers to occupy on their own terms?
  • Garden of Delights by Unscene Architecture - could we open up and re-programme exclusive garden squares to create more public outdoor space?
  • To-i-let by Unscene Architecture - can private toilets be made publicly accessible?


This installation of The Garden of Privatised Delights is made possible by the Built Environment Trust with support from the British Council, the Architectural Association School of Architecture and the Museum of Architecture




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