Australians exhibit at Palazzo Bembo during Venice Architecture Biennale 2012.
While all eyes are on the Venice Architecture Biennale for the much-anticipated national pavilions and Arsenale installations, a smaller satellite exhibition is taking shape inside the historic Palazzo Bembo on the Grand Canal.
Among the fifty-plus practices world-wide invited to participate in Traces of Centuries and Future Steps are Australia’s Paul Morgan Architects (Melbourne) and Ian Moore Architects (Sydney). Others include Arata Isozaki, Studio Velocity, Takasaki Masaharu (Japan) 3deluxe, (Netherlands), Piero Lissoni (Italy), Josep Lluis Mateo (Spain), Architecture for Humanity (US) and Chinese artist Ying Tianqi.
In thinking about his exhibition, Paul Morgan considered the venue in relation to the work he wanted to show. “Palazzo Bembo is a small space on the Grand Canal, which got me thinking about open-endedness in terms of the Australian context, and the extremity of our conditions,” says Paul Morgan. “The open-endedness sometimes scare Europeans, and I was keen to play that up.” Through theoretical and built projects as well as film, his firm’s exhibition explores themes of urban flow, environmental kinetics and eco-morphology.
Trunk House, for instance, is a weekender using engineered timber forks for its structure. Cape Schanck House and Frankston Yacht Club both are informed by wind- and weather-modelling of their extreme coastal sites. The speculative Blowhouse (a kind of lung) is a speculative space (circa 2030), where prevailing winds cause the building’s outer skin to rise and fall like a breathing organism. Inside, the skin is fitted with solenoids to convert the energy of this movement into electricity. The “small but monumental” NMIT Student Centre on the new northern fringe of Melbourne illustrates urban flow, along with the Chisholm TAFE Automotive & Logistics Centre - whose aerodynamic form and continuous steel skin are a metaphor for energy-efficient vehicles of the future.
Ian Moore chose his two most recent projects to exhibit at the Palazzo: the compact Strelein Warehouse in Surry Hills and the luxurious new Boustred House overlooking Sydney’s Balmoral Beach. “To me the exhibition name (Traces of Centuries and Future Steps) is about looking back and looking forward, and these two projects really signify that to me. Strelein is an inner-city 19th century structure re-engineered as a contemporary house, while the Boustred project is very large, newly designed and located in a suburban setting. It’s not thta’s there’s much varation in their design languages, but there’s a strong contrast between them in terms of scale and context, and age – ‘big and small’, ‘old and new’, ‘urban and suburban’ which I like.”
Traces of Centuries and Future Steps runs 29 August - 25 November 2012 at the Palazzo Bembo, Venice, near the Rialto Bridge.