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2016 Venice Biennale: Australian Pavilion, "The Pool"

Denton Corker Marshall, Aileen Sage Architects (Isabelle Toland and Amelia Holliday) with Michelle Tabet

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Morgan Day


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Project Description


The Australian Pavilion will be transformed through the use of light, scent, sound, reflection and perspective to create a series of perceptual illusions within a designed landscape. The exhibition will engage visitors through an immersive experience that will transport them poolside and evoke the pools of Australia in all their forms, be they natural or manmade, inland or coastal, temporary or permanent.

Eight prominent cultural leaders from various fields have been selected to share their personal stories, using the device of the pool as a platform to explore the relationship between architecture and Australian cultural identity. These include Olympic gold medal winning swimmers Ian Thorpe and Shane Gould, environmentalist and 2007 Australian of the Year Tim Flannery, fashion designers Romance Was Born, writer of best-selling book The Slap Christos Tsiolkas, winner of the 2012 Miles Franklin Prize Anna Funder, Indigenous art curator Hetti Perkins and Australian rockmusician Paul Kelly.

Each narrative touches on a different scale, from the scale of the body to the scale of the continent, and together all reveal the myriad meanings and impacts of the pool on Australian society; as a means to enable survival in an unforgiving landscape, to tame our environment, to provide spaces that facilitate direct contact with nature, to create democratic social spaces, but also spaces for healing racial and cultural division.

‘The Pool as an architectural device delimitates a social edge and a personal edge. It is this metaphorical and literal edge condition that we want to explore and share with the audience at Venice. The pool represents a condition of surplus and of scarcity in the same form, which makes it very interesting. ’ the Creative Directors said.

The aim of the Australian Exhibition is to step outside the architect-to-architect discourse to show how a familiar, common object, the pool, is in fact pregnant with cultural significance, it is both artefact and catalyst of change. The Pool is about public space as a vital component to society and shows the many ways in which its public character is interpreted and occupied.

The new Australian Pavilion designed by Denton Corker Marshall opened in May 2015 for La Biennale Arte and will host its inaugural architecture exhibition for the Biennale Architettura 2016. The pavilion is the first to be built within the Giardini in the 21st century.
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