New Australian Pavilion for Venice

Jun 2, 2011
  • Article by Online Editor

The Australian Council has announced it plans to manage the redevelopment of the Australian pavilion in Venice, after it secured a significant private donation to help fund the project.

The Australia Council, which owns and manages the pavilion, will manage the redevelopment project along with Simon Mordant. Mordant, Commissioner for the 2013 Venice Art Biennale, will partner with the Australia Council to drive the fundraising process and has pledged $1 million to the project, should the development proceed.

The project would be funded through private donations, with Australia Council CEO Kathy Keele saying projected costs for the project would be between $4-6 million. The new pavilion design would be selected from a small number of invitation-only proposals submitted by Australian architects.

The current pavilion, a pre-fabricated building designed by Philip Cox in 1988, was designed as a temporary structure and built quickly in order to retain the exhibition space inside Venice’s Giardini. Cox then gifted the pavilion to the Australia Council, and the structure has been used for the Australian exhibitions since then.

There have been several campaigns in support of a new building, including the Di Stasio Ideas Competition in 2008. Initiated by patron Rinaldo Di Stasio, the competition was organised in order to drive more support for the replacement of the current building. The open competition attracted entries from around the world, with 168 entries whittled down to a shortlist of 56 projects and judged by John Gollings, Norman Day, Bridget Smyth and Callum Morton. Cox, too, has been an outspoken supporter of a new design for the pavilion.

The Australia Council and Mordant now hope that their privately funded redevelopment will at last get the project off the ground, with the new building completed in time for the 2015 Biennale.

The Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) said the project would be a “win-win” for the Australian architecture and design communities, who share the pavilion space for the alternating art and architecture Biennales.

“The current temporary pavilion, designed by eminent architect Philip Cox, has served Australia very successfully for 25 years, and allowed the nation to participate in this important forum. We now look forward to working with the Australia Council to develop a permanent structure to take us successfully into the 21st Century,” said AIA CEO David Parken.

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02 Jun 11 at 11:55 PM • Penleigh Boyd

Designs for the new Australian pavilion in Venice….“by invitation”….what’s going on here? Where has the Australian spirit of egalitarianism and the fair go gone? Would Griffin, Utzon or Giurgola have gotten invitations to their competitions? Come on Australia Council – lighten up. Open the design possibilities to all comers – it is only a pavilion afterall, not high-tech medical operating theatre. Judging panel by invitation, sure, but don’t limit the possible entries – that would be a truly sad day for Australian designers.

Penleigh Boyd
Architect, Canberra


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