The Australian exhibition for the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale has been exhibited locally for the first time since Australia opened its pavilion in Venice in 1988. Curated by Jefa Greenaway and Tristan Wong, Inbetween presents a collection of architectural projects and processes selected for their powerful representation of Indigenous and First Nations peoples and cultures; projects that enable cross cultural exchange and highlight the value of Indigenous knowledge for improving the built environment.
Navigating the limitations of current border restrictions, Inbetween has been reimagined as an immersive, large scale and suitably beautiful video piece. “What we’re looking at through the exhibition is how architects, both non-indigenous and Indigenous, are working with First Nations peoples – traditional owners, knowledge keepers and elders – as a way of embedding cultural authenticity into our built environment.” explains Jefa. “Beyond that, we’re opening up a conversation around some of the shared challenges we’re facing in our broader Pacific region and pointing to the fact that when finding ways to connect with Indigenous culture, we don’t operate in a vacuum.”
Originally conceived for exhibition at the subsequently postponed 2020 iteration of the Biennale in Venice, Inbetween looks beyond Australia’s borders and invites the neighbouring nations of the Pacific to join the exhibition, leveraging Australia’s fortunate position as one of only 29 countries with a permanent pavilion to platform architecture and cultures that may have less international exposure. The film brings together 20 projects from across Australia, Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia to amplify the important role architecture can play in retaining and rediscovering lost cultural knowledge.
Tristan said: “We’re privileged to be one of the few countries that have a pavilion in the Giardini in Venice so in the context of this year’s overarching Biennale theme, which asks “How will we live together?”, we thought of sharing our platform with countries whose architecture and cultures have much less exposure as a way of breaking down that privilege. This ended up being a way of reaching beyond our shores to embrace people and cultures who have a shared experience and created a much richer exhibition.”
Showcasing projects from remote, regional, and metropolitan locations – every drawing, photograph or snippet of footage collated in the film offers insight into how architects are creating new protocols for better design outcomes through meaningful co-design processes. “Architects understand the value of engaging with deeper connections to Country. Inbetween explores different approaches, across a variety of architectural typologies and scales, but they are all working to a shared agenda. There’s a consistency of thinking and an attitude that shows we’re reaching a level of cultural maturity within the built environment disciplines where we can begin to enable cultural collaboration and exchange.” reflects Jefa.
Inbetween premiered on Thursday 20 May, and will be exhibited this year throughout Australia, across the Pacific region and more broadly, as well as online. “Not being tied to the space in Venice has meant that we’ve been able to create something that can be experienced by a much larger audience. The great thing about the new format is that essentially anyone can access it and it has longevity beyond the dates of the Biennale.” explains Tristan. “This project isn’t a collection of artefacts; it’s forward looking and presents the innovative potential in learning from Indigenous methods and ideas. Embedding practices and knowledge that has been around for more than 60000 years into the way we design buildings creates opportunities for a new kind of architecture that is better for people, cities and the environment.”
“We always wanted to invite people on a journey. The film creates an immersive experience that engages the senses so it’s not simply about the visuals but also the connection to soundscapes and the hearing of language, creating a visceral connection to Country. In the international realm there are still stereotypes around how people understand Australia so we wanted to demonstrate richness and diversity – the different contexts and landscapes that exist in Australia, and more broadly in our region, and how architecture responds to that” Said Jefa.
Jefa has spent over two decades exploring the intersection of engagement, Indigeneity and the built environment, as both a Director of Greenaway Architects and as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Melbourne. Jefa’s practice experience spans cultural, educational, and precinct scaled projects demonstrating the capacity for architecture to become an enabler towards a valued contribution to society. His methodology seeks to embed Indigenous knowledge systems and design thinking, which interrogates an ethical position which foregrounds our responsibilities to the environment. Jefa shares a proud Wailwan/Kamilaroi and German heritage and is one of a handful of registered Indigenous architects in private practice in Australia.
An awarded architect and SJB Director whose innovative thinking and bold solutions are connected to positive wellbeing outcomes and environmental benefits. His projects have won awards with reference to innovation, clarity of message and capacity to improve the health and experience of users. Tristan’s work promotes a more humanity-based outcome and a belief in architecture’s ability to make positive change to society. Experience as an artist has coloured his perspective on design; for example, encouraging hand drawing and sketching in the studio – a reminder of the connection between human-made design processes, and the built environment.
Architecture has the power to build connections and understanding between First Nations cultures in Australia, the Pacific region and beyond. This is the compelling concept behind In|between, the Australian exhibition of the 2020 Venice International Architecture Biennale.
Creative Directors Tristan Wong and Jefa Greenaway, along with Tim Ross, Elizabeth Grant, Aaron Puls and Jordyn Milliken, will demonstrate the potency of design collaboration to create culturally appropriate and meaningful architecture, while also highlighting the connections between First Nations people across the Australasian region.
Embracing Australia’s diversity, its rich Indigenous heritage and multiplicity of languages, In | between will showcase a collection of architectural projects from Australia and the Pacific region and explore how design can be a powerful form of communication that can evocatively represent Indigenous and non-Indigenous narratives.
We raise the international profile of Australian architecture through active participation in global events such as the Venice Architecture Biennale – the world’s most prestigious celebration of the practice.
Through the Biennale, we present Australia’s contribution to world architecture before an international audience of influential architects, designers, urban planners and critics. In turn, we also encourage the local and international professional community to continue finding ways to develop a more efficient and sustainable built environment for the future.
The Venice Architecture Biennale has made the decision to postpone the 2020 event due to the current public health emergency.
Support Australia in Venice and be a part of something big as we seek to advance architecture through international dialogue, answering the call – How will we live together?
Network, build connections and engage with the local and global architecture and design community and be recognised as a leader with acknowledgement of support throughout Australia’s marketing campaign and on the ground in Venice.
Join Network Venice now and maximise your benefits with VIP attendance at the upcoming Creative Director Reveal events being held in Melbourne and Sydney this October.
The 17th International Architecture Exhibition will be curated by architect and scholar Hashim Sarkis with the theme How will we live together?
‘The world is putting new challenges in front of architecture. I look forward to working with participating architects from around the world to imagine together how we are going to rise to these challenges.’ – Hashim Sarkis.
The Venice Architecture Biennale has made the decision to postpone the 2020 event due to the current public health emergency. The Vernissage preview will now be held on Thursday 27 and Friday 28 August, and the exhibition will run from 29 August until 29 November (instead of 23 May until 29 November).
The Australian Institute of Architects respects this decision as the health and safety of our members, partners and staff, as well as our international colleagues and friends, is our main priority. We look forward to presenting the Australian pavilion alongside the creative team in August.
We will update this page soon with further information.
Mauro Baracco and Louise Wright of Baracco+Wright Architects with Linda Tegg
Repair focused on Australian architecture that integrates built and natural systems to effect repair of the environment, and in so doing, mend or improve other societal, economic and cultural conditions.
On entering the Pavilion, visitors found over 10,000 native Australian grassland plants arranged inside and outside of the Pavilion’s granite structure. This field of vegetation, titled Grasslands, allowed visitors to enter a physical dialogue between architecture and the endangered plant community – with just one per cent of these threatened species left in their native Australian environment.
Amelia Holliday, Isabelle Toland (Aileen Sage) and Michelle Tabet
Using the pool as a lens through which to explore Australian cultural identity, the Australian Pavilion was transformed through the use of light, scent, sound, reflection and perspective to create a series of perceptual illusions within a designed landscape.
Eight prominent cultural leaders from various fields were selected to share their personal stories, using the device of the pool as a platform to explore the relationship between architecture and Australian cultural identity. These included 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.
The aim of the exhibition was to step outside the architect-to-architect discourse to show how a familiar, common object, the pool, is in fact pregnant with cultural significance, it is both artefact and catalyst of change. The Pool is about public space as a vital component to society and shows the many ways in which its public character is interpreted and occupied.
Augmented Australia provided a virtual journey through 23 of Australia’s most intriguing unbuilt projects through the use of a dedicated app.
Augmented Australia’s virtual experience began under a temporary Cloud Space, where display images of each project automatically triggered three-dimensional (3D) augmented models, animations and interviews when viewed through the app. Including a 1:1 scale virtual model of the new Australian Pavilion by Denton Corker Marshall overlaid on its construction site.
The exhibition then extended beyond the Giardini with real-world scale augmented models of each unbuilt project geographically positioned in various locations around Venice, marking the largest exhibition of its kind ever seen.
Anthony Burke, Gerard Reinmuth with TOKO Concept Design
Featuring installations that ranged from robotically-fabricated sculptures to a live roaming radio show, Formations moved beyond the physical parameters of the Australian Pavilion building to emphasise the actions and processes behind contemporary architectural practice.
As new economic, social and cultural challenges present themselves, Formations was a catalyst for discussion and debate around the changing role of architects and the ways in which they influence the world around them. The exhibition showcased six innovative architectural groups through a range of installations that challenged traditional perceptions of what it is to be an architect.
John Gollings and Ivan Rijavec
Now and When explored the challenges facing our cities, engaging in timely issues that included sustainability, urban sprawl and density.
The ‘NOW’ component featured aerial views of Australian urban landscapes, including Melbourne, Sydney and Surfers Paradise, contrasted with giant mining pits at Kalgoorlie and Mt Newman by renowned architectural photographer John Gollings. The ‘WHEN’ component, overseen by Ivan Rijavec and produced by FloodSlicer, featured a sequence of ideas from 17 architectural collaborations of possible future urban spaces, including floating or submerged cities, or desert spaces.
Now and When exhibited on a completely new form of 3D stereoscopic technology, which goes beyond the latest cinematic release. Visitors were able to move around these urban scenes and experience the urbanised worlds from different perspectives.
Neil Durbach, Vince Frost, Wendy Lewin, Kerstin Thompson and Gary Warner
Abundant Australia explored the astonishing ability of Australian architects to blend new influences, dramatic landscapes and Australia’s unique multicultural society. Featuring over 140 architectural models of both domestic and commercial buildings from prominent Australian architects, including Ashton Raggatt McDougall, Denton Corker Marshall and Iredale Pedersen Hook, the exhibition revealed an architecture that is distinctly Australian.
Shane Murray and Nigel Bertram
Micro Macro City looked closely and carefully at the actual conditions of our urban environment, focusing on its specificity and differences. The creative team considered the contemporary Australian urban condition to be a matrix of inter-relationships between urban cores, suburban sprawl, regional centres and rural hinterland.
The exhibition presented a sequence of illuminating case studies which have the potential to reveal a more precise understanding of our actual urban inhabitations and to consider how such an understanding can contribute clues and insights into how we might develop these urban realms into the future. Entwined with each of these case studies the creative team presented contemporary works of urban architecture from a range of scales, types and uses.
Australia is one of 29 countries to be granted a permanent exhibition site within the Giardini della Biennale. In 2015, the Australia Council for the Arts unveiled Australia’s new permanent pavilion designed by Denton Corker Marshall. This new pavilion replaced a temporary exhibition space designed by Philip Cox in 1988, in use until 2013.
We gratefully acknowledge the Australia Council for the Arts for the use of the Australian Pavilion during the biennial architecture exhibition.
The Australian Institute of Architects gratefully acknowledges the support given by the Australian Council of the Arts.
The University of Queensland