The Garden of Privatised Delights 2022

Challenging the Polarisation of Private and Public Space

The Garden of Privatised Delights is the 2021 British Pavilion exhibition at la Biennale di Venezia Architecture Exhibition (recreated in London). It calls for new thinking around privately owned public space in cities across the UK.

Image: by Public Works

It was commissioned by the British Council and curated by Madeleine Kessler and Manijeh Verghese of Unscene Architecture. 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.

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 and the dystopia of total privatisation.


Five teams of designers reimagined the privatised public spaces as inclusive, immersive experiences. The themes of the exhibition are derived from British culture of pubs, high streets and garden squares.


by The Decorators

Could the pub be more than a place for drinking and become a versatile centre for civic action? Pubs are facing rapid decline. Communities need to imagine new models of ownership and use.


The Garden of Privatised Delights 2022

by Built Works

Could we rethink facial recognition technology and free our collective data for public benefit? All citizens have access to their collective data and agency over how it is used.


by Studio Polpo

Could the high street go beyond commercial interests to become a place of diverse social exchange? The High Street of Exchanges is an infrastructure of mutuality, care and civic action.


by Public Works

Could we use citizen’s assemblies to develop new strategies for land ownership and use? If land moves away from being a market commodity, it could be reimaged as a resource for the long-term protection of people and the planet.


The Garden of Privatised Delights 2022

by vPPR

Can we design new spaces in the city for teenagers to occupy on their own terms? A spherical sculpture is alluding to the contradictions of public life faced by this “in-between” age group.


by Unscene Architecture

Could we open up and re-programme exclusive garden squares to create more public outdoor space? Providing productive infrastructure to extend its functionality, the garden square could be opened-up to allow more divers users and activities (play, grow, cook, work, meet and contemplate).


The Garden of Privatised Delights 2022

by Unscene Architecture

Can private toilets be made publicly accessible? Public toilets are rapidly disappearing around the UK. How toilets within private institutions can be made publicly accessible for all to use? This would create a network which allows everyone the freedom to explore public space.

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