The Venice Biennale exhibition is arguably one of the world’s greatest architectural platforms, bringing together great minds to offer up thought-provoking pavilion developments to create a global architectural think tank while giving insight into the technologies, ideologies and practices of architects around the world.
Guided by David Chipperfield’s theme of Common Ground, architectural firms and design teams from around the world focused on developing initiatives that celebrate the global architecture community and the rich culture that community creates and inspires.
“The emphasis of the 2012 Biennale is on what we have in common,” Chipperfield says. “Above all, the ambition of Common Ground is to reassert the existence of an architectural culture, made up not just of singular talents but a rich continuity of diverse ideas united in a common history, common ambitions, common predicaments and ideals. In architecture everything begins with the ground.”
The Australian Pavilion for the event took the theme and expanded upon it, emphasising not only what connects the architecture industry, but also what makes each country’s architecture scene unique.
An Australian team headed by Anthony Burke and Gerard Reinmuth, in collaboration with TOKO Concept Design, presented this year’s pavilion, ‘Formations: New Practices in Australian Architecture’. According to the Australian Institute of Architects, the pavilion theme aimed to ‘explore concepts that unite the architectural profession whilst celebrating points of difference’.
“It’s very exciting to see how the architectural profession is evolving, the new domains that are being explored and the vitality and variety of innovative architectural types that Australia seems to foster,” said creative directors Burke and Reinmuth. “Formations highlights the range of unconventional and world-leading architectural practice types being developed across Australia, celebrating new opportunities for architects that are working in non-traditional and unexpected ways.”
While the pavilion did not take home an award at the exhibition, it has been celebrated publicly for its interpretation of both the overall theme and its way of highlighting the Australian architecture sector.
Japanese architects Kumiko Inui, Sou Fujimoto, Akihisa Hirata and photographer Naoya Hatakeyama took home the top honours, winning Golden Lion for best National Presentation for their pavilion titled ‘Architecture possible here? Home-for-All’.
Centering on a theme of post-Tsunami Japan rehabilitation and redevelopment, the design team was applauded for its sensitivity and focus on the human element that is such a pivotal part of the architecture industry.
”The presentation and the storytelling in the Pavilion are exceptional and highly accessible to a broad audience,” they said. “The jury was impressed with the humanity of this project.”
Other major award-winning teams included Urban–Think Tank with members Alfredo Brillembourg, Hubert Klumpne and Justin McGuirk being awarded the Golden Lion for Best Project of the Common Ground Exhibition, and Grafton Architects, who were awarded the Silver Lion. Special mentions went to projects from Poland, the USA, Russia and architect Cino Zucchi.