Australian creative director sought for 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale

The Australian Institute of Architects has opened expressions of interest (EOI) for the position of creative director(s) of the Australian exhibition at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale.

The creative director curates the exhibition to be shown inside the Australian Pavilion at the biennial architecture exhibition. The EOI documents call for a team that is “both speculative and analytical about our culture.”

The brief, set by the Institute’s Venice Biennale Committee, says: “The exhibition showcases Australian architectural thinking, culture and design, and should communicate a rich and engaging story about Australian architecture, potentially also embracing urbanism and landscape, to an international audience. It should represent and explore the place and experience of architecture in the Australian community.”

The brief acknowledges the challenges common to all creative directors in Venice, who must create a compelling exhibition that competes with those on show in many other national pavilions within the Giardini. The brief states that the most memorable exhibits from past Biennales have demonstrated “an exceptionally clear and potent idea, an ability to engage with different levels of audience commitment (both time and intellectual investment), and a directness of communication style.”

The Venice Architecture Biennale 2018 will be led by international curators Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of Irish architecture studio Grafton Architects. However, the overall theme for the Venice Architecture Biennale 2018 is yet to be determined, and may not be announced until late 2017. As a result, the committee will be interested in flexible exhibition concepts that can be tailored towards the overarching theme, once it is announced.

The creative director(s) and their curatorial team must include an architect registered in Australia, but multidisciplinary teams including urban designers, landscape architects and other creative disciplines as well as architecture students are also encouraged to join the expression of interest.

The Pool, Australia’s exhibition at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale, curated by Aileen Sage Architects (Isabelle Toland and Amelia Holliday) and Michelle Tabet.

The Pool, Australia’s exhibition at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale, curated by Aileen Sage Architects (Isabelle Toland and Amelia Holliday) and Michelle Tabet.

Image: Alexander Mayes

The 2018 exhibition will mark the seventh iteration of the Australian exhibition facilitated by the Australian Institute of Architects and the second time the Denton Corker Marshall-designed Australian Pavilion, which opened in 2015, has been used for the architecture biennale. The 2016 exhibition, The Pool by creative directors Aileen Sage Architects (Isabelle Toland and Amelia Holliday) with Michelle Tabet, attracted 260,000 visitors – Australia’s most visited Venice exhibition on record.

Submissions will be assessed by the Venice Biennale Committee according to the following criteria:

  • The power of the idea and the exhibition to engage the broad visitor demographic
  • An exhibition concept that has outstanding potential and relevance
  • Ability of the proposed team to develop and deliver their exhibition concept
  • Abilitiy of the concept to engage with and amplify the new Australian Pavilion in the Giardini
  • Adaptability of the exhibition to travel nationally and internationally after showing in Venice.

The Venice Biennale Committee comprises Jill Garner (committee chair; Victorian Government Architect), Janet Holmes à Court AC (Commissioner), Rachel Neeson (Neeson Murcutt), Helen Lochhead (Dean of UNSW Faculty of Built Environment), Ken Maher (national president of the Australian Institute of Architects), Luca Belgiorno-Nettis (managing director of Transfield Holdings) and Jamie Penrose (general manager of member engagement at the Australian Institute of Architects).

Expressions of Interest close on Sunday 26 February. Shortlisted proposals will be announced on Wednesday 15 March, and teams will then have until Tuesday 4 April to further develop their concepts. The successful team will be announced in late April.

To view the brief and submission requirements, visit

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