australian pavilion at venice architecture biennale takes visitors poolside
all images by brett boardman

 

 

 

one of australia’s greatest cultural symbols — the pool — forms the centerpiece of the country’s exhibition at the 2016 venice architecture biennale. the display — presented by the australian institute of architects and curated by aileen sage architects (isabelle toland and amelia holliday) with michelle tabet — uses ‘the pool’ as a lens to explore the country’s cultural identity. the curators’ manifesto encourages the audience to consider the social significance of the swimming pool as both an artifact and a catalyst for change. the exhibition examines the role of public space as a vital component of society, and shows the many ways in which its character is interpreted and occupied.

venice architecture biennale australian pavilion
a pool forms the centerpiece of the pavilion

 

 

 

the pavilion’s main room features a water-filled pool measuring 60 square meters. this intervention covers about a third of the space, and is about 30 centimeters deep. steel-framed loungers surround the pool, fabricated by the centre for appropriate technology, and developed in collaboration with industrial designer elliat rich. the exhibition engages visitors through the use of sound and light that reflects on the water’s surface — casting fluid patterns on the walls of the white box interior.

venice architecture biennale australian pavilion
the display uses the vibrant public space as a lens through which to explore cultural identity

 

 

 

pools in australia are currently facing significant challenges as social institutions,’ explain the creative directors. ‘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. 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.

venice architecture biennale australian pavilion
the scheme encourages the audience to consider the cultural significance of the swimming pool

 

 

 

the creative directors have selected eight prominent cultural leaders to share their personal stories, further exploring the relationship between the pool, its architecture, and australian cultural identity. each narrative touches on a different experience of the pool. the voices of the storytellers will be presented as a sound installation within the pavilion as part of an immersive installation. 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.

venice architecture biennale australian pavilion
the exhibition examines the role of public space as a vital component to society

 

 

 

for more images, follow designboom on our dedicated instagram account @venice.architecture.biennale

venice architecture biennale australian pavilion
the pavilion’s main room features a water-filled pool measuring 60 square meters

venice architecture biennale australian pavilion
the creative directors have selected cultural leaders to share their personal stories

venice architecture biennale australian pavilion
the australian pavilion sits in the picturesque giardini della biennale

venice architecture biennale australian pavilion
the pool covers about a third of the pavilion, and is about 30 centimeters deep

venice architecture biennale australian pavilion
steel-framed loungers surround the pool

venice architecture biennale australian pavilion
the exhibition engages visitors through the use of sound and light

venice architecture biennale australian pavilion
the pool casts fluid patterns on the walls of the white box interior

venice architecture biennale australian pavilion
the exhibition remains open until november 27th, 2016