Australian Pavilion at 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale revealed
A collaboration between Melbourne’s Baracco+Wright Architects and artist Linda Tegg is set to shine an international spotlight on architecture’s responsibility to environmental rehabilitation, with the exhibition Repair featuring at the Australian Pavilion of the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale this May.
In August 2017, the Creative Directors made their way from Melbourne to Sanremo, Italy to sow thousands of endangered seeds, many of which had never been grown in Europe. Next week, eight months later, they return to transport the matured plants via truck and boat to Venice, in preparation for the installation at the 16th International Architecture Biennale.
Presented by the Australian Institute of Architects, the thought-provoking exhibit will display an unprecedented collection of indigenous Australian grassland species: featuring 10 000 plants and over 60 species of a Victorian Western Plains Grassland plant community.
Inhabiting indoor and outdoor spaces, the multi-sensory living installation will occupy the same amount of space as a standard Australian family house, transforming the Pavilion into a verdant field of vegetation that invites visitors to enter into a physical dialogue between architecture and the endangered plant community.
Over the past 230 years, Australia’s land has suffered enormous damage; the same land that Australia’s First Nations people have nurtured for over 70 000 years. Shockingly, just one per cent of the Western Plains Grassland plant community remain in their native ecosystem today. As Australian cities continue to grow, a component of the exhibition entitled Grasslands Repair serves as a stark reminder of what is at stake when we occupy land.
This living installation will be sustained by Skylight – a life-support system of 100 LED lights suspended between the ceiling and the grassland, simulating the sun’s energy in an unlikely act of transference inside the pavilion.
To accompany the installation, Linda Tegg and Baracco+Wright Architects have created an experimental video series entitled Ground, authored with David Fox, which will showcase Australian projects that demonstrate diverse iterations of repair. The series was curated via a nationwide search that called for broad examples of this ideology, with 126 submissions received. The final selection will be showcased inside the Pavilion on five-metre-high screens, displaying a series of striking visuals that reinforce Australia’s conscious efforts to instil the notion of repair in today’s architectural practice.
The selected contributors are: Wave Hill Walk-Off Pavilions (Bower Studio, University of Melbourne) | Weave Youth and Community Services (Collins and Turner, Sydney) | Grassland Common: Linking Ecology and Architecture (d___Lab., RMIT University, Melbourne) | Triabunna Gatehouse (Gilby + Brewin Architecture, Melbourne) | Glebe4: The Foreshore Walk (James Mather Delaney Design, Sydney) | Garden House (Baracco+Wright Architects, Melbourne) | Ngarara Place, RMIT University (Greenaway Architects, Melbourne) | Shepparton Art Museum (by Kerstin Thompson Architects, Melbourne) | Arden Macaulay Island City (Monash University Urban Laboratory, Melbourne) | The Globe (m3architecture with Brian Hooper Architect, Brisbane) | Prince Alfred Park and Pool Upgrade (Neeson Murcutt Architects with Sue Barnsley Design Landscape Architecture, Sydney) | Kullurk/Coolart: Somers Farm and Wetlands (NMBW Architecture Studio with William Goodsir and RMIT Architecture, Melbourne) | Featherston House (Robin Boyd, Melbourne) | Main Assembly Building, Tonsley Innovation District (Woods Bagot with Tridente Architects and Oxigen, Melbourne and Adelaide).
Creative Directors Mauro Baracco and Louise Wright said: “We have often struggled with our relationship as architects when considering the use of land – it’s no small act. We believe there is a role for architecture to actively engage with the repair of the places it is part of, which our exhibition will communicate. We hope the discussion we’re presenting will engage the profession as enthusiastically as it has already done here in Australia.”
Collaborator and artist Linda Tegg added: “I work within a world of images that form our idea of what is natural, and our interactions with others. When I looked at Baracco+Wright’s notion of repair, it was clear that they were prompting a shift in how architecture understands its place. Throughout our collaboration, it hasn’t been hard to find common ground. I often think it’s the prevalence of plants in our lives and thinking that enables the kind of generous collaboration that we’ve shared over the past year.”
Jill Garner, Chair of the Australian Institute of Architects Venice Biennale Committee, said: “I would like to thank and congratulate the creative team – Louise, Mauro and Linda – for their vision, passion and commitment and for embracing the challenge of being in the international spotlight with an important and timely message. Repair represents an approach to architectural thinking that we believe will become a critical strategy of architecture worldwide.”
To fully develop the exhibition’s thematic, the curators invited a team of local experts to reflect on architecture from unconventional positions. The wider team supporting the creative directors includes architect and anthropologist Paul Memmott, landscape architect Chris Sawyer, landscape architect and urban designer Tim O’Loan, ecologist David Freudenberger, curatorial advisor Catherine Murphy, and architects Lance van Maanen and Jonathan Ware.
Through the team’s expertise in architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, ecology, indigenous culture and conceptual thinking, a diverse filter can be applied to the gaps, possibilities and issues facing Australian architects to create architecture not yet fully imagined.
Repair will feature in the 16th International Architecture Exhibition at La Biennale di Venezia which is open to the public from May 26 to November 25, 2018. For more information visit architecture.com.au/venicebiennale.