The Venice Biennale of Arts is a great opportunity to think outside the box. From the collateral events that bring new uses for centenary buildings to the country pavilions in Giardini or Arsenale, an architect can learn a lot by visiting the world’s oldest biennial. Here are 7 must-see pavilions if you are visiting Venice before the Biennale ends on the 24th of November.

Ghana Freedom

Entitled after the song composed by E.T. Mensah on the eve of the independence of the new nation in 1957, this is the first Ghana Pavilion at the Biennale. It examines the legacies and trajectories of that freedom by six artists. Rooted both in Ghanaian culture and its diasporas, the pavilion is designed by Sir David Adjaye. Each artist’s work is exhibited in elliptically-shaped interconnected spaces that are plastered with locally-sourced earth from classical structures in Ghana. It’s an exhibition that differs from all other pavilions through its space and art, a place to immerse yourself in the incredible and exponent Ghanaian culture.

Sun & Sea (Marina)

Golden Lion of this Biennial, the Lithuanian Pavilion transforms the interior of a historic quayside building within the Marina Militare complex into an artificially lit beach scene replete with sand and all the paraphernalia associated with seaside holidays. The artists Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė, and Lina Lapelytė present a durational opera performance on this dystopian installation that makes the imagination of any architect go deeper and deeper on thinking the way we design and use spaces.

Neither nor: The challenge to the Labyrinth

Neither nor: is inspired by the Labyrinth that is Venice, which fascinated and inspired Jorge Luis Borges and Italo Calvino. Emerging from this context, the Italian pavilion presents works by three important Italian artists – Enrico David, Chiara Fumai, and Liliana Moro – whose layout is neither linear nor can be reduced to a set of tidy and predictable trajectories. It is a show where you can enjoy a sense of dilated time and get lost in the space, a fascinating parallel to the host city of the biennial that allows for different discoveries on another scale, be it in art or the encounters that this exhibition generates.