Australia Pavilion installs a huge pool addressing to healing racial and cultural division in Venice

  May 31, 2016 - 15:18   1600     Submitted by WA Contents

The Pavilion of Australia’s exhibition 'The Pool' opened at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition, Venice Architecture Biennale as a representation of democratic and social space for Australian society. 'The Pool' is one of Australia's greatest cultural symbols that represents public space as a vital component to society and shows the many ways in which its public character is interpreted and occupied. 

The Australian Exhibition, presented by the Australian Institute of Architects and curated by Isabelle Toland and Amelia Holliday form Aileen Sage Architects with Michelle Tabet, uses the pool as a lens through which to explore Australian cultural identity. 

Image © WAC

Their manifesto encourages the audience 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. 

Image © WAC

''Pools in Australia are currently facing significant challenges as social institutions. The threatened closure and demolition of Australian public pools is a perennial theme of community protest and activism and is an issue to which architects and urban commentators are inevitably drawn'' said creative directors of The Pool

Image © WAC

''By identifying the pool’s cultural importance to Australia, we are pushing for a more critical engagement with the civic and social values that underpin our work as architects. The power and breadth of these places should not be underestimated nor simply jettisoned as uneconomical. Architecture can and does have an impact that transcends conventional economic models'' they added.

Image © WAC

Through the description of events, experiences, histories or memories, the narratives presented collectively describe a powerful relationship between place and society, intrinsic to this year’s Biennale Architettura theme Reporting from the Front. The Creative Directors have selected eight prominent cultural leaders to share their personal stories, to explore the relationship between the pool, its architecture and Australian cultural identity. 

Image © WAC

The contributors 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 rock-musician Paul Kelly.

Image © WAC

Each narrative touches on a different scale of experience of the pool, 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. 

Image © WAC

A similarly culturally significant narrative preceded the opening of the Pavilion, with the ‘Guunumba Elements Ceremony’, performed by Gumbaynggirr Elder and Poet Aunty Bea Ballangarry. Drawing upon elements of earth, air, fire and water, the ceremony provided a rich and immersive introduction to the formalities that followed.

Australian Pavilion, The Pool by Aileen Sage Architects (Amelia Holliday and Isabelle Toland) with Michelle Tabet. Image © Brett Boardman

''Australians have a very particular relationship with water, which is shown in many different ways through the pool as an important social space in our country. The Creative Team has done an amazing job at capturing that essence'' stated Ian Thorpe, Present at the opening was Olympic gold medal winning swimmer.

Image © Brett Boardman

The voices of the storytellers will be presented as a sound installation within the Pavilion of Australia as part of an immersive installation. Within a designed landscape, the exhibition engages visitors using sound and light reflecting on water and casting fluid patterns on the walls of the white box interior of the pavilion. All these sensory triggers will transport visitors poolside and evoke the pools of Australia in all their forms, be they natural or manmade, inland or coastal, temporary or permanent. 

Image © Brett Boardman

The main room of the Pavilion features a 60 sqm water-filled pool, which covers about a third of the space, and is about a foot deep. The Creative Directors have commissioned the Centre for Appropriate Technology, based in Alice Springs in Central Australia, to fabricate steel-framed pool lounger chairs for the exhibition space. The design was developed in collaboration with industrial designer Elliat Rich and the colours selected to reflect the colours of Australia’s centre. 

Image © Brett Boardman

The new Pavilion of Australia 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.

Image © Brett Boardman

The Pool will be open to the public throughout the duration of the Biennale Architettura 2016, from 28 May to 27 November 2016, with a press preview from 26 and 27 May 2016.

Image © Brett Boardman

Image © Brett Boardman

The collaborative team Michael Fenlon, Amelia Holliday, David Lakes, Sian James-Holland, Michelle Tabet, Isabelle Toland, Christopher Sims, Bree van Reyk. Image © Brett Boardman

Top image © WAC

> via Venice Architecture Biennale/Australia Pavilion






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