VA16: Access All Areas




The theme of VA16: Access All Areas, focused on various aspects of physical and social inclusion in design and city planning. There are four aspects to the project, the first are a series of observations and interventions by the artists Tony Heaton and Nicky Hirst, followed a symposium and artist talk on the 27 May. The final part is a series of interventions in the UK and a workshop back in Venice in July.


15th International Architecture Exhibition, Venice | 26th and 27th May 2016

The theme of VA16 ACCESS ALL AREAS will focus on different aspects of physical and social inclusion in design and city planning. 

Despite many advances the idea of accessibility, the principle of social inclusion is not yet at the forefront of urban or architectural design. The aim of VA16 is to bring this issue to international prominence through two separate, but connected events to coincide with the 15th International Architectural biennale in Venice, The theme REPORTING FROM THE FRONT addresses the need to improve the quality of the built environment to consequently improve peoples quality of life.

The two areas are, first, the commission of new works by UK artists, one of whom will make guerrilla interventions in the city of Venice to highlight the issues of accessibility, working in collaboration with University IUAV of Venice. Second, a public debate to be held during the press days of the Architectural biennale in Venice 26th – 27th May 2016 on the issues of inclusion, bringing together artists, designers, architects, engineers and city planners to discuss why this issue requires wider debate.

This is not a project simply about disabled access it is about accessibility and inclusion for everyone. The discussion will cover all areas of accessibility, not only for visitors to public spaces and buildings, but also for workers. There should, in short, be no new building or urban design that does not encompass the basic human right to have access to all areas.

The project is realized by Venice Agendas in collaboration with SHAPE London, the UK's leading disability-led arts organization, Comitato Accessibilità per Venezia, City of Venice and University IUAV of Venice. The initiative is supported, financially and culturally, by the British Council - Arts Council and the City of Venice.





In the garden of Serra dei Gardini, Castello 1254

The VA16 symposium addressed physical and social inclusion in urban planning, specifically the issue of accessibility in Venice. The objective was to raise awareness of accessibility, as well as to stimulate creative concrete proposals for architectural inclusion in Venice, but above all to discuss the importance of how new constructions and urban-plans should take into account a fundamental human right: the possibility to access to all areas.

The theme of the Breakfast-Debate Access All Areas will examine and discuss accessibility and inclusion in general, but the main objective is to find alternative, concrete, proposals for accessibility in Venice. Our aim is to raise awareness of social inclusion and the human right to access all areas, as well as to stimulate tangible creative proposals for architectural inclusion in Venice.  

The specificity of Venice is an opportunity to experiment with different solutions and approaches to accessibility and social inclusion. Venice is inclusive in its essence, life is on foot, there are no cars, there is constant human contact and a strong sense of local community prevails. Venice has the potential to be a prime example of a socially and architecturally inclusive city: Venice accessible and inclusive.

Moderated by Jennifer Macmillan Johnson

Panel: Francesca Pinto, Venice Council, Elimination of Architectural Barriers office; Franco Gazzari, Ordine degli Architetti PPC di Venezia; Attilio Santi, University Iuav of Venice; Stefano Maurizio, CERPA Italy; Anna Michielotto and Silvia Dainese, Comitato Accessibilità per Venezia; Alessandro Dalla Pietà, Gondolas4all; Tony Heaton OBE, SHAPE London



Following the artist interventions, an open discussion will be held to coincide with the panel discussion on the issues of accessibility and inclusion, where the photographs and video footage taken during the ‘guerrilla’ interventions will be presented. A follow on event will be held back in the UK to continue the discussion and the artist’s works will be presented. The Symposium will be followed by a talk with Mark Segal, Tony Heaton and Nicky Hirst.




Artist Interventions


Two UK based artists, in collaboration with IUAV and Comitato Accessibilità per Venezia will present a number of intervention/observations in the city of Venice, and later London, to draw attention to mobility, accessibility and inclusion in the ways that people can navigate, explore and enjoy the city regardless of any impairment. This will be followed by an open discussion to bring attention to these issues, in which an international competition to explore these themes will be launched. An event will be held back in the UK to continue the discussion and the artist’s works will be presented. An exhibition of the UK based and Venetian based artists works will be held at IUAV in Venice in 2017.

 Tony Heaton OBE and Nicky Hirst have been chosen to lead the artist interventions in Venice and London. Tony will make a series of impromptu street guerrilla style interventions planned, executed and documented in the streets and on the bridges of Venice and selected locations in London, to confront and inconvenience the non-disabled, if only briefly. Nicky is approaching concerns about access and permeability in the built environment by focusing upon the ubiquitous adaptations, made by both nature and people, where one material has to acknowledge and accommodate another. Nicky will post her findings in Venice on Instagram, forming an immediately visible version of the city @veniceagendas16


Nick Hirst: Accommodate


Nicky Hirst is a sculptor and installation artist. ‘She is known for her subtle and elegant work. She produces intricately handmade drawings and installations that incorporate commonplace and domestic materials designed to draw attention to the idiosyncracies and psychological dimension of a given site or context’ (Kerry Duggan and Ceri Lewis, CAS) recent public art commissions include Vista Residential Chelsea Bridge, London (2015 - 16) and Kingfisher Court Mental Health Facility, Radlett (2013 -14). Recent exhibitions include the Creekside Open 2015 selected by Lisa Milroy for APT Gallery, London (2015); Death & Dying, MAG3 Projektraum, Vienna (2014); IMPRESS: Print Making Expanded in Contemporary Art, Courtauld Gallery, London (2014); PROJECT 05 (with Penny Klepuszewska and Tom Lovelace), Contemporary Art Society, London (2014) and Grid, Vigo Gallery, London (2012) In October 2016 she will be exhibiting in Museo d'Arte Contemporanea di Cogliandrino, the nonprofit artist run space created by Stephen Nelson in Basilicata, Italy.


Tony Heaton: Access


Tony Heaton OBE trained as a sculptor at Lancaster University. His ‘Monument to the Unintended Performer’ was installed on the Big 4 at the entrance to Channel 4 TV Centre in celebration of the 2012 Paralympics, and created in recognition of all those disabled people who are subject to scrutiny simply by getting on a bus in a wheelchair or walking down the street with a white cane. 

Invited to re-create his sculpture ‘Great Britain from a Wheelchair’ for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Paralympic Games as Lecterns for Lord Coe and Sir Phillip Craven, ‘Great Britain from a Wheelchair - Revisited’ utilised sports wheelchairs and running blades within its construction.

 Winner of the Art-Plus Art in Public Places Award with Zoe Partington and Dada South, this £50,000 award resulted in the creation of the sculpture, “Squarinthecircle?” - Situated outside the school of architecture at Portsmouth University.

 Tony is CEO of Shape – a disability-led arts organisation – based in London, working with major cultural institutions and disabled people, as artists and audiences


The collaborating organisations supporting VA16 were: workinprogress, theartistagency, SHAPE Arts, TENSATOR, Comitato Accessibilità per Venezia, University IUAV of Venice, Gondola4ALL, VENEWS, Istituto Veneto di Scienzel Lettereed Arti, Palazzo Franchetti, Istituto Veneto, Fadel Italiana and Soluziono Meccanich Domotiche Meccatroniche. The initiative is supported, financially and culturally, by workinprogress and the City of Venice.

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