The Pool – Australia at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2016

Place: Venezia, Country: Italy
The Pool, creative director: Aileen Sage with Michelle Tabet
Text by Riccardo Bianchini
All photos © Inexhibit, 2016

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The newly-built pavilion of Australia at the Giardini della Biennale, designed by Denton Corker Marshall architects. Photo © Inexhibit, 2016

The Pool – The exhibition of Australia at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2016

There are countries for which a key architectural device that others consider marginal become highly symbolic of the nation’s spirit and identity. For Finnish people such element is sauna, for Britons is pub, for Italians a suburban football playground. For Australians it is, indisputably, a pool.

From large to small, from natural to artificial, from stylish to impromptu, pool “has the unique ability to evoke both the sacred and the profane. It also aptly represents a distinctively Australian democratic and social space – a great leveller of difference.”

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“The Pool” at the Pavilion of Australia, installation view. Photos © Inexhibit, 2016

Admittedly, someone could argue that to build a temporary pool in Venice would not be the most appropriate answer by Australia to the theme proposed by the director of the Biennale, Alejandro Aravena; namely, to investigate the social impact of architectural endeavors.

Yet, the approach by the creative director of the Australian pavilion, Aileen Sage, is much more profound than it may seem at first sight. The idea is to go beyond a self-referential discourse from architect to architects and to investigate the relationship between place and society.

Indeed, through a series of stories narrated by seven Australian leaders in various fields, including literature, science, the arts, sport and music, the multisensory installation The Pool depicts how such kind of infrastructure could become “… a means to enable survival in an unforgiving landscape, to tame our environment, to provide spaces that facilitate a direct contact with nature, to create democratic social spaces, but also spaces for healing racial and cultural division“. (Aileen Sage)

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“The Pool” at the Pavilion of Australia, exterior and installation views. Photos © Inexhibit, 2016


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Giardini della Biennale
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Built in 1807, the Giardini della Biennale (Biennale’s Gardens) is the main venue of the annual art and architecture exhibitions of the Venice Biennale


Venice Architecture Biennale 2016 – Reporting from the Front – INDEX

Venice Architecture Biennale 2016 – Reporting from the Front – INDEX

Venice Architecture Biennale 2016 – Reporting from the Front – INDEX


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