Kwaeε – Venice Biennale, Adjaye Associates

The Kwaeε is the principal installation at the Venice Biennale Architecture Festival 2023, architecturally designed by Adjaye Associates and enabled by Xylotek.

Project Year


Xylotek Role

Design–definition, detailing, fabrication/supply, installation and project management.

Project Team

Adjaye Associates || Format Engineers || Timber Concept

Photo Credits

Michelle Äärlaht, Xylotek


The 13m tall sculpture sits on the docks over historic Venetian boatyards and workshops. The bold triangular shape draws the eye to the water and the surrounding environment. Designed to be a place of reflection and active programming, the bold black timber uses the shafts of light filtering through the roof and walls to create an atmosphere reminiscent of a cave or forest. 

Xylotek’s role in this unique project involved design-detailing the timber components for the sculpture. The team also supplied the timber mill in mainland Europe and assembled the structure on-site in Venice before the opening in mid-May 2023. The design comprises many post-and-beam pairings with different cuts and lengths, which meant that the design team had to use a coding system to identify all the unique elements for ease whilst on site. The assembly of the 450 post-and-beam structures necessary efficiency and organisation, a challenge that Xylotek couldn’t resist.

The pressure-treated Douglas fir timber was sourced and manufactured by Timber Concept, in line with the design specification produced by the Xylotek team. The timber elements then travelled down from Germany to Italy via road to the festival site. Once on-site, the ‘signposts’ were attached and lifted using cranes into place – initially onto a temporary support structure and fixed to each other as the sequencing dictated. 

Xylotek were keen to be part of this prestigious architecture festival and showcase the exciting buildings that can be accomplished using timber. The world-renowned event exhibits and celebrates a variety of building materials; the team at Adjaye Associates aligned with Xylotek in the shared passion for smartly using renewable building materials. Challenges presented during the process enabled the team to think on their feet and problem-solve with clarity and a shared goal. The additional obstacle of being in a city surrounded by water meant that logistics had to be examined on a granular level, which added to an exciting opportunity to contribute to one of the most significant architectural events of the year.

The Venice Biennale 2023 opens on Saturday, 20th May and runs to Sunday, 26th November. Access more information here.

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