Not For Sale! opens in the Canada Pavilion of the Venice Biennale

Exterior of Canada Pavilion with Stop the Sweeps Hoarding. Photograph by Maris Mezulis.

The Canada Council for the Arts has opened the exhibition Not for Sale! at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. The exhibition opened at the Biennale’s press preview this week, and is open for public viewing from May 20 to November 26, 2023.

The exhibition, curated by the collective Architects Against Housing Alienation (AAHA), constitutes the official participation from Canada that is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Commissioner.

The AAHA Not for Sale! exhibition draws attention to the housing crisis being experienced by many communities across Canada. Not for Sale! describes and denounces the impact of real estate speculation that converts homes into financial assets, aggravating a range of issues including a general lack of affordability, precarious housing, and homelessness.

The AAHA collective contends that in an economy dominated by real estate, urban environments suffer from the effects of systemic racism, sexism, and classism. The Not for Sale! exhibition is a rallying call for the architectural community. It is also an invitation to work collaboratively within community environments to find creative, viable, ecological, and sustainable solutions. The exhibition Not for Sale! proposes that the housing crisis is a severing of three forms of essential connection: to the land, to social ties, and to the ability to creatively shape our environment.

By moving their campaign headquarters to the Canada Pavilion in Venice, the AAHA collective composed of Adrian Blackwell, David Fortin, Matthew Soules, Sara Stevens, Patrick Stewart, Tijana Vujosevic, and 10 teams, are showcasing, and expanding the potential of their architectural movement on the international stage.

Land Back Courtyard at Canada Pavilion. Photograph by Maris Mezulis.


“We believe that the roots of the housing crisis lie in the capitalist and colonialist dispossession of people from their land and homes,” writes the Architects Against Housing Alienation (AAHA) collective. “In Canada, this started with the appropriation of land from Indigenous peoples and the transformation of homes into commodities, objects of real estate speculation rather than places defined by deep community and cultural ties. We are witnessing the consequences of dispossession today. We are fighting for a system of housing that is fairer; we are showcasing not only the fundamental aspects of the housing crisis but also proposals for positive change–ways of legislating, financing, and designing that empower communities. We hope that the projects we show in Venice and our campaign at large will educate and inspire not only Canadians but people all over the globe impacted by the housing crisis.”

The AAHA Not for Sale! exhibition is located at the Canada Pavilion in Venice from May 20 to November 26, 2023. The AAHA collective and their growing network of collaborators are sharing related content about their campaign online at

Throughout the Biennale Architettura 2023, the AAHA collective will work with 10 interdisciplinary and geographically dispersed teams. These teams are comprised of community organizations, supporters of non-alienated housing, and architects. As part of the Not for Sale! exhibition, architectural design studios, will be held onsite in Venice, for students from the University of British Columbia School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, and from the University of Waterloo School of Architecture.

Through ongoing research, writing, events, and visualizations, the university students will further develop the demands to address housing alienation, and present bold visions for equitable and truly affordable housing in Canada. Visitors to the Pavilion will be able to engage with those working on the ground to learn how to contribute to the development of sustainable solutions to housing affordability.

The AAHA Not for Sale! campaign is using social media and online resources to mobilize Canadians to join in the call for safer, healthier, and more equitable housing. The online programming includes the Not for Sale! campaign manifesto, as well as the set of demands made by the collaborators to end housing alienation and foster the rebuilding of fundamental connections.

Interior of Canada Pavilion. Photograph by Maris Mezulis.


Not for Sale! by AAHA was selected through a juried competition. The presentation of Not for Sale! is made possible by the support of the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of British Columbia; the University of Waterloo School of Architecture; the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada; the Ontario Association of Architects; and the Architecture Foundation of British Columbia.

“The presentation of the AAHA collective’s Not For Sale! exhibition at La Biennale di Venezia highlights crucial issues related to affordable housing access in Canada,” says Simon Brault, Director and CEO, Canada Council for the Arts. “It reminds us that architecture is an art and practice that can choose to engage in concrete dialogue with social movements and by doing so contribute to the advent of a better world. The analyses, ideas and proposals that will be presented and developed in Venice by AAHA are part of an international drive for just and sustainable human development as an alternative to the greed, plunder, and exclusion that globalization promotes. Art and architecture are once again called to the bedside of a society that is suffering from destructive drifts and I am convinced that this is a source of hope and comfort that we all need.”

The full list of exhibitors who are part of Not for Sale! includes: A Better Tent City Waterloo Region; Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia; Alex Wilson, University of Saskatchewan; At Home in the North; Atelier Big City; Bâtir son quartier; Blackwell; Canadian Cohousing Network; Centre d’écologie urbaine de Montréal (CEUM); Comité logement Ville-Marie; CP Planning; David T Fortin Architect Inc.; FBM architecture • interior design • planning; Gentrification Tax Action; Grounded Architecture Inc.; Haeccity Studio Architecture; Idle No More; Interloge; Ipek Türeli, McGill University; Katlia Lafferty, National Indigenous Housing Network; Keele Eglinton Residents; L’OEUF Architecture; Lancelot Coar, University of Manitoba; LGA Architectural Partners; Luugigyoo, Patrick R. Stewart Architect; Maison du développement durable; Maison du Savoir et de la Littérature; Navigator Street Outreach Program; Nisga’a Nation; One House Many Nations; Ouri Scott, Urban Arts Architecture Inc.; Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust; Sarah Silva, Hiy̓ám̓ Housing; SOCA (Studio of Contemporary Architecture); SOLO Architecture; SvN Architects + Planners; Sylvia McAdam, Windsor University; Table de concertation du Faubourg Saint-Laurent; This Should Be Housing; Toronto Tiny Shelters; tuf lab; Xalek/Sekyu Siyam Chief Ian Campbell, Skwxwu7mesh Uxwumixw, Squamish Nation.