Australia’s 2020 Venice pavilion to evoke Country and connection

The Australian pavilion at the 2020 Venice Architecture Biennale will explore connections between indigenous cultures across Australia and the South Pacific, following the announcement of the pavilion’s creative directors by the Australian Institute of Architects.

Architects Tristan Wong and Jefa Greenaway, both of Victoria, have been named as creative directors for 2020. Their proposal, titled In | Between, will be delivered in collaboration with anthropologist Elizabeth Grant, writer/producer Tim Ross, designer Aaron Puls and architecture graduate Jordyn Milliken.

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The exhibition will “highlight the potential of architecture to build cultural understanding between first nations peoples and others with a focus on Australia and our Pacific Island neighbours.”

In a statement, Wong and Greenaway said, “Architecture becomes the enabler to connect, to evoke Country, to reveal layers of history and memory, and to give cultural expression, predicated on a people-centred approach to a shared humanity.”

“The theme seeks to embrace our diversity, rich Indigenous heritage and multiplicity of languages. It will explore how design can be a powerful form of communication which can evocatively represent Indigenous and non-Indigenous narratives.”

Read ArchitectureAU’s review of the 2018 Australian pavilion here.

Helen Lochhead, national president of the Australian Institute of Architects, said, “The exhibition will use the Australian Pavilion as a platform – as one of just 29 countries to have a permanent space – to showcase a collection of architectural projects from across the country and the Pacific region.”

She praised the proposal for the way it engaged with the theme set by the curator of the biennale, Hashim Sarkis, “How will we live together?”

Sarkis asked participating nations to respond to the sub themes of the exhibition, such as inclusive social housing and connective urban tissue.

The biennale also asks participants to consider “elevating architecture, rather than promoting it; cooperating, rather than competing; focusing on solutions rather than the problems; geographies of inclusion, rather than exclusion; and highlighting the universality of unique experiences.”

The winning proposal was selected over two other shortlisted entries:

  • Raising Albedo: Cooling Cities, by Lawrence Nield, Andrea Nield, Joanna Best, James Grose, Mat Santamouris, John Gollings, Dr Banduk Marika, Alessandro Costa and David Pidgeon. This proposal “responds to the impacts of climate change by demonstrating heat mitigation strategies being used to reduce surface temperatures in Darwin by 15 degrees Celsius to reduce ambient temperature by a critical 2 degrees Celsius, a strategy that could make living in tropical cities more amenable, globally.”
  • Project<Public, by Matthew Pullinger, Luca Belgiorno-Nettis, Brett Boardman, Annabel Crabb, Vince Frost and Neil Paul. It uses Sydney to explore the “idea of the citizen jury and how this might impact the design of our cities into the future through the live case-study being employed by the City of Sydney.”

The selection panel comprised Lochhead; Institute CEO Julia Cambage; South Australian chapter president Tony Giannone; as well as Caroline Butler-Bowdon, executive director of public spaces, NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment; and Isabelle Tolland, co-creative director of the 2016 Australian pavilion and director of Aileen Sage Architects.

The biennale will take place in 2020 from 23 May to 29 November.

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