Final Version of the
Australian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
This new Australian
a balance between
what is in danger of
being lost through
the rigors of time
with what will
to replace it.
Built on massive stone foundations that appear to sink into the shi ing ground, the
symbolism is of the Venice we have come to expect as inevitable: the Beautiful Sinking
City... but revived by optimism and bluster.
The early studies of the form began as an exploration into the architectural expression
of “new growth”. The massive foundations were purposely created as imperfect blocks
skewed awkwardly into the ground. The roof planes were light and weightless forms
carried by a structural system that mimicked the large trees abundant throughout the
Gardens. A somewhat rigid geometry played oﬀ the sharp angles of the stone pylons.
As the design emerged, reﬁnements to the roof to be er enclose and protect the gallery
led inevitably to a compromise in the symbolic nature of the form. Too bad it rains in
To properly display art, and to allow the most ﬂexibility in the presentation of a wide
variety of venues, the gallery became a more conventional enclosed space. A second ﬂoor
plaza was added for a sculpture garden or to function as a cafe or other mixed uses. A
translucent fabric roof was proposed, then replaced with a more substantial metal roof.
This upper roof was always seen as an expression of a lightweight organic treeline.
The multi-faceted nature of the roof structure invites
the sun and allows its light to wander into the space,
casting diﬀuse and complex shadows throughout the
volume. This roof took many forms as it was developed.
Its ﬁnal conﬁguration is constructed as lightweight metal
panels held in suspension by a discrete la ice of cables
and delicate hooped trusses. A crossing transept roof is
introduced to accentuate the exterior vertical access and
to provide a sculptural clearstory to the roo op garden.
The rhythm of the structure is interrupted by occasional
non-sequiturs that strike subtle discordant notes into the
form without dispelling its unifying harmony.
With the structure
naturally leaning toward
and overhanging the
water, it was a simple
leap of design to add
a sculptural pedestrian
GENERAL SITE VICINITY
GALLERY LEVEL PLAN
The facility incorporates a large walk
through Gallery Shop that leads directly
to the Great Hall. This large gallery also
houses two smaller Alcoves that serve as
adjunct spaces or meeting rooms. The Great
Hall also provides a direct connection to
the Canal. Vertical access to the Upper
Gallery is provided by ﬂanking exterior
stairways and an elevator.
PAVILION TO BE
NEW AUSTRALIAN PAVILION
TREETOP GALLERY PLAN
A large open-air gallery space is housed on
the roo op. It is covered by the sculptural
lightweight roof and features an artful
pedestrian bridge that links the facility to the
opposite side of the Canal. This upper level
also hosts a seasonal café & coﬀee shop and
also can serve as a partially enclosed facility
for private parties, fund-raisers or other
gatherings. It oﬀers a glorious view of the
small vessels that traverse along the Rio del
Pedestrian Bridge Connection
BRIEF FOR THE PROPOSED NEW VENICE BIENNALE
AUSTRALIAN PAVILION SITE The Biennale is one of the world’s most prestigious
cultural events. It was ﬁrst held in 1895 and now
Assume reusing the existing site of the Australian
incorporates art, architecture, cinema, dance, music
Pavilion in the Giardini, or as an option, entrants may
and theatre. The main locations are the Giardini
choose to select a completely different site in Venice.
and the Arsenale. AUSTRALIA AT THE VENICE
A pavilion for the exhibition and presentation of Australia has been involved with the Art Bienalle since
Australia’s contributions to the Venice Arts Biennale 1954, and with the Architecture Biennale since 2000.
(52nd held 2007), and Venice Architects Biennale Aaron Betsky is the curator of the upcoming biennale
(10th held 2006). Exhibitions may be static, mobile, “Out There. Architecture Beyond Building”.
theatre, visual, sound/music, 3D constructions and
video. The team curating the Australian exhibition are Kerstin
Thompson, Wendy Lewin, Neil Durbach, Vince Frost
SPACE ANALYSIS and Gary Warner.
Assume total 500 square metres ﬂoor area:
Entry and books – 10 sqM.Main hall – 400 sqM. THE CURRENT AUSTRALIAN PAVILION
Meeting room/s + second gallery – 30 sqM.
Ofﬁces + staff facilities – 30 sqM. The current Australian Pavilion was designed by
Storage, plant, back-of-house – 30 sqM. Sydney architect Philip Cox and opened in 1988.
There was pressure at the time to build quickly or
SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS lose the opportunity to the last position available in
The date of submission is Tuesday 22 April 2008 the Giardini della Biennale. It was prefabricated, and
by 5pm. No entries submitted after this time will be within a month of the planning permit being issued it
accepted. was open for the Arthur Boyd exhibition. The pavilion
was always viewed as temporary. It has long been
DI STASIO COMPETITION criticised as being a very difﬁcult space to curate.
C/O 147 Chapel Street
St Kilda VIC 3182, Australia
Venice has a dual nature. Water and buildings. The
large open piazzas and tight-winding calle. The city
with a wafer-thin façade behind which lurks death and
decay. The hard stone streets and the lush private
gardens. A glimpse through a half open door reveals a
private world. The pedestrian nature of the city forces
you to physically interact with it, every single step of
your journey. The architecture provides a backdrop to
Venetian life and this is captured in cinema ranging
from Iain Softley’s adaptation of Henry James’s novel
“Wing’s of the Dove”, Lucino Visconti’s adaptation
of Thomas Mann’s “Death in Venice” to action
and adventure such as Indiana Jones, Lara Croft
and James Bond. For centuries the city has been
congested with tourists all seeking this mythical
“Venice” during summer, and an empty theatre in
winter. It was the decadent playground of Europe,
which inspired artists, musicians, writers, architects
The Venice Biennale concept and all
presentation materials are the creation of
California Architect Steven Alden