There is perhaps no greater platform through which to promote Australian architecture than the Australian pavilion at the Venice Biennale.
As the world’s most renowned architectural exhibition, the Venice Biennale and its different pavilions promote global architecture on a country by country basis. For this reason, the responsibilities placed on the designers who create these pavilions are great, as they must truly offer a representation of the architectural abilities and climate of their country.
For this reason, the appointment of a design team for the pavilion has been taken very seriously, with a nation-wide tender process.
In a unanimous decision, Melbourne-based architectural firm Denton Corker Marshall has been elected to design what will become a $6 million, privately-funded development.
Aesthetically and structurally, the designers have gone in a direction that is not often synonymous with international architecture. Instead of using the architectural form as a talking point and overpowering the exhibitions within, the firm has designed a stunningly simple and geometrically streamlined structure that has been ‘envisaged as an object rather than a building.’
The subtlety of the design extends to the pavilion’s ‘Australian-ness’, with designers moving away from traditional stereotypes associated with both Australia and the nation’s architectural style. These subtleties include the use of the striking black granite which will be sourced from South Australia, and its positioning in the midst of trees on the banks of the canal also giving an understated nod towards the Australian bush environment.
”There’s always this great discussion about whether the architecture should impose itself on where artists exhibit or create a simple space for the art – that’s the position we took,” says architect John Denton.
This design focus fits well with the theme of the 13th International Architecture Exhibition, of which the pavilion will be a part: Common Ground.
“I want this Biennale to celebrate a vital, interconnected architectural culture, and pose questions about the intellectual and physical territories that it shares,” says theme developer David Chipperfield. “In the methods of selection of participants, my Biennale will encourage the collaboration and dialogue that I believe is at the heart of architecture, and the title will also serve as a metaphor for architecture’s field of activity.”
The pavilion is set to be completed by 2015 for the exhibition.
By Jane Parkins