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The Venice Architecture Biennale is arguably the most prestigious event in the profession’s calendar and is often open to much debate, whether it is Kazuyo Seijima’s reflection on architecture, which suggestively asked: “Can architecture clarify new values and a new lifestyle for the present?” (2010) or David Chipperfield’s “concerns of continuity, context and memory, towards shared influences and expectations, and to address the apparent lack of understanding that exists between the profession and society” (2012). The 2014 Biennale is the curatorial work of Rem Koolhaas, entitled Fundamentals. In keeping with a growing interest in the elements of architecture, the Biennale this time around will be “about architecture, not architects,” Koolhaas has said, adding: “After several Biennales dedicated to the celebration of the contemporary, Fundamentals will focus on histories – on the inevitable elements of all architecture used by any architect, anywhere, anytime (the door, the floor, the ceiling etc.) and on the evolution of national architectures in the last 100 years.”
And so, the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) has unveiled Australia’s 2014 creative directors will be Perth’s felix._Giles_Anderson+Goad with their Augmented Australia 1914-2014 project. Biennale visitors will be able to experience “what could have been; an alternative architectural reality” in which 21 unrealised Australian projects will be brought to life through three-dimensional augmented models, images, voiceovers and animations. Of the projects selected, there are “10 historical designs, 10 unbuilt public buildings by contemporary architects and the new Australian Pavilion by Denton Corker Marshall, which will then be under construction in Venice.” As director of felix., Rene Van Meeuwen, says: “for every finished building there are countless designs that for whatever reason don’t eventuate and these masterpieces often remain hidden to the outside world.”
In the team’s initial imagery, marker poles provide a point of reference allowing for images to be triggered by a visitor’s smartphone device, providing a “portal to the unrealised world, while the virtual content will be accessible in an online catalogue with 3D printing files available to allow the public to print or order their own 3D replicas.” Intriguingly, architectural historian Philip Goad will assist the team in selecting the noteworthy unrealised historical projects. Meanwhile, the 10 contemporary works will be selected through an open call to architects with unbuilt public projects designed in the last 20 years for an Australian site. Architects are able to submit their unbuilt projects for consideration through architecture.com.au/venicebiennale
To what end the Augmented Australia 1914-2014 answers Koolhaas’ mandate is open to debate, and only when the project is in amongst the exhibition’s broader context can it be judged as engaging as it seems. What is unquestionable is that the selection of Augmented Australia 1914-2014 promises to be a grand examination of Australian architectural production for the whole world to see.
The exhibition is supported by Austral Bricks, Smeg, Zip Industries, IBL Limited, Café di Stasio and Architecture Media. In addition, the Institute gratefully acknowledges the support given by the Australia Council for the Arts.