Children’s Forest Pavilion

Lithuania at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia 2023

18 May – 26 November 2023 I 2125 Campo Tana, Castello, Venice

Opening: 18 May, 3pm

Open Tuesday – Sunday

20 May to 30 September: 11am – 7pm

1 October to 26 November: 10am – 6pm

Closed on Mondays (except on 22/05, 14/08, 4/09, 16/10, 30/10, 20/11)

Forests are architectural and infrastructural spaces: environments of natural systems governed, exploited, and regulated by human interventions, technologies, industries, institutions and agencies, but also places of depleting biodiversity. 

The Lithuanian pavilion is composed as a playscape and conceived to acknowledge the unique approaches of children to observe, draw conclusions, explain the forest, and demand agency in forming it. 

The Children’s Forest Pavilion brings together works and findings developed in parallel to outdoor activities held with children in the woodlands around Vilnius and the Curonian Spit in Lithuania, as well as areas of old-growth forest in Paljakanvaara in Finland. Guided by environmental educators, activists, artists, architects, and foresters, they were introduced to think of forests as negotiated spaces where no single actor has a central stake.

The children learned about ancient forests, primordial swamp landscapes and long processes of geological formations. On a microscopic scale, they looked at the growth patterns of lichens, and explored chemical pollution molecules through augmented reality – creatures they called ‘ecomonsters’. Timelines helped them to trace the changing environments of the forests and compare the ability of ecosystems to compensate for forestry extractions. A flock of sturdy Skudde sheep that grazed in the woodlands in Dzūkija provided wool for producing soft objects. Children explored sounds made by string instruments that produced reverberations of ancient and living timber and were also invited to be part of a new phenomenon-based learning programme as a way of acquiring forest literacy skills. In the exhibition, they encounter an alphabet of branches of century-old mountain pines, a space with supersized shadows, and computer-generated spores and slime moulds in a myriad of shapes and forms.           

The pavilion is made using timber from trees grown on the Curonian Spit that has, over several years, been collected to form an archive, in which each tree is marked and dated. Planed, drilled and packed in the wood workshop in Nida, the timber was transported to a seaport in Mestre, where it then travelled by boat to the pavilion’s location in Campo della Tana in Venice, to be assembled for the exhibition. 

Combined with film installations, worktables and play structures, the architectural elements support the research and learning environment of the exhibition. By the end of the Biennale, the installation will be prepared for its return to the native woodlands of the Curonian Spit where it will function as a destination for forest walks and environmental education workshops. 

Contributors: Aistė Ambrazevičiūtė, Ancient Woods Foundation, Gabrielė Grigorjevaitė, Laura Garbštienė, Mustarinda Association (Tiina Arjukka Hirvonen, Michaela Casková, Robin Everett, Riitta (Nyyskä) Nykänen), Mantas Peteraitis, School of Creativity (Kristupas Sabolius), New Academy (Ikko Alaska, Nene Tsuboi, Tuomas Toivonen), Urbonas Studio (Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas), Kornelija Žalpytė

Curators: Jurga Daubaraitė, Egija Inzule, Jonas Žukauskas
Commissioner: Ines Weizman
Architecture: Jonas Žukauskas in collaboration with Antanas Gerlikas, Jurgis Paškevičius, Anton Shramkov
Graphic design: Monika Janulevičiūtė
Poster illustration: Izadora Daubaraitė Žukauskaitė
Moss hats and shawls: Banan Vedro, Circulation of Infernation, Doch, Heorhii Hohatadze
Videography: Eitvydas Doškus, Elis Hannikainen
Video editing: Ignė Narbutaitė
Lighting: Martynas Kazimierėnas
Coordination: Dovilė Lapinskaitė
Coordination in Venice: Marco Scurati
Communication: Stefanija Jokštytė, Anna Luise Schubert, Alexandra Bondarev
Translation and proofreading: Alexandra Bondarev, Gemma Lloyd
Project assistant: Vilius Vaitiekūnas
Accounting: Rasa Bliakevič
Legal consulting: Neringa Savickė, Kotryna Volodkaitė

Organised by: Neringa Forest Architecture

Implemented by: Nida Art Colony of Vilnius Academy of Arts
Partner: Centre for Documentary Architecture
Supported by:  Lithuanian Council for Culture, Neringa Municipality, Nordic Culture Point

Thanks to: Gražina Banienė, Adriano Berengo, Yulia Derenko, Gaetano di Gregorio, Aurora Fonda, Laura Gabrielaitytė - Kazulėnienė, Monika Kalinauskaitė,  Dr. Mindaugas Lapelė, Laguna nel Bicchiere, Rimantė Paulauskaitė-Digaitienė and Dr. Ainis Pivoras from the Ancient Woods Foundation, Mindaugas Survila, Nida Forestry, Kretinga Forestry, the Curonian Spit National Park

Nida Art Colony of Vilnius Academy of Arts: Milena Černiakaitė, Vasilisa Filatova, Alberta Globienė, Giedrius Globys, Asta Jackutė, Dalia Jokūbauskaitė, Lina Koseleva, Aldona Lankauskienė, Elena Orlovienė, Daura Polonskytė, Ieva Skauronė, Yana Ustymenko, Katerina Vaseko, Tetjana Volosiuk

All the children, educators, and schools who participated in workshops in Lithuania and Finland:

Puolankajärvi Comprehensive School (Puolanka, FI), Hyrynsalmi Comprehensive School (Hyrynsalmi, FI), Neringa Gymnasium (Nida, LT), Young Forest Friends (Kretinga, LT), Baltupiai Progymnasium (Vilnius, LT), Gerosios Vilties Progymnasium (Vilnius, LT), Emilijos Pliaterytės Progymnasium (Vilnius, LT), Pavilnys Progymnasium (Vilnius, LT), Sietuva Progymnasium (Vilnius, LT), Simonas Konarskis Gymnasium (Vilnius, LT), Simonas Stanevičius Progymnasium (Vilnius, LT), Vasily Kachalov Gymnasium (Vilnius, LT), Vilnius Sofya Kovalevskaya Progymnasium (Vilnius, LT)

Press contacts:

International: Anna Luise Schubert,
Lithuania: Stefanija Jokštytė,