The concept behind Repair starts from the fact that architecture takes up land and separates people from the natural environment. This is particularly relevant in Australia where cities are interspersed and bordered by vegetation and larger natural systems.
The Australian pavilion will be transformed into a living installation, entitled Grasslands Repair, with a huge grassland. It is designed to disrupt the viewing conditions through which architecture is usually understood and serves as a reminder of what is at stake when we occupy land. The curators will install ten thousand plants inside and outside the pavilion, including 65 species of Victorian Western Plains Grasslands. The seeds have been sourced in Australia, transported to Italy and grown by Italian partners. The area of plants exhibited is similar to that taken up by the pavilion.
Above this installation, a custom designed lighting system, titled Skylight, has been created to simulate the sun’s energy and to sustain the plants inside the pavilion during the entire period of the Architecture Biennale. It channels energy from the Italian electricity grid – 64% fossil, 21% hydro, 9% wind and solar, 5% nuclear, and 1% geothermal – into the bodies of the plants.
The third component of the exhibition is Ground, an experimental video series which will show 15 Australian projects. The projects represent a geographic, scale and project-type mix and illustrate different design processes and challenges. While most focus on achieving repair outcomes through addressing the natural environment, there will also be examples of cultural, social or economic repair. These include for instance the reuse of old buildings, the remediation of industrial land and the presence of indigenous culture in Australian cities.
Mauro Baracco is a practicing architect and a director of Baracco+Wright Architects. He has a PhD in Architecture from and is also an Associate Professor at RMIT University in the School of Architecture and Urban Design, Melbourne, Australia where he was the Deputy Dean of Landscape Architecture (2013-15). Louise Wright is a practicing architect and a director of Baracco+Wright Architects. She has a PhD in Architecture from and also is a sessional lecturer in design at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia.
Baracco+Wright Architects, founded in 2004, combine the academic and practice world and are shifting more and more towards landscape based approaches that effect and catalyse environmental repair through decisions of siting, ground plane, hydrology and other ecological conditions. They have been published and awarded nationally and internationally. Their work has been described as quietly radical.
Linda Tegg works with photography, performance, video, and installation to investigate the contingent viewing conditions through which we orient ourselves in the world. Her work has been extensively exhibited in Australia, Mexico, The United States, and Europe. Tegg was the Samstag Scholar of 2014 and The Georges Mora Foundation Fellow of 2012. Linda is currently a Lecturer in Creative Practice at Deakin University, and the inaugural Artist In Residence at the School of Geography at the University of Melbourne.
“We have often struggled with our relationship as architects when considering the use of land – it’s no small act. We believe there is a role for architecture to actively engage with the repair of the places it is part of, which our exhibition will communicate. We hope the discussion we’re presenting will engage the profession and initiate a legacy of the Biennale Architettura 2018.”
Mauro Baracco and Louise Wright, curators
It is only the second time that the current Australian pavilion will host the Architecture Biennale. As it’s the most recent pavilion (2015) in Giardini, it has a totally different style compared to the other pavilions. The black box next to the canal has been designed by the architecture firm Denton Corker Marshall. Some of the panels fold open to indicate that an exhibition is ongoing, and to allow natural light inside. The former pavilion was designed by Philip Cox and was opened in 1988.
Review by The Venice Insider
The pavilion of Australia is one of my favourite pavilions of this year’s Biennale, as you can read in ‘7 pavilions you cannot miss at the Architecture Biennale 2018’. It’s the perfect place to relax after you have been walking around Giardini for a couple of hours. The grassland is an oasis of peace and quiet, so you can take a seat amidst the grasses and spend some time inside the pavilion.
Once you’ve read the introduction text at the entrance, the pavilion is relatively easy to visit as there are no signs to read or models to look at. There are only grasses and, from time to time, a video. While I was there, I noticed Louise Wright pulling out the weeds outside the pavilion. Their concept requires a continuous effort from the team to keep the pavilion beautiful and alive during the entire period of the Biennale.
If you want to know more about the Architecture Biennale 2018 and the other national participations, you can read my post ‘What to expect from the Architecture Biennale 2018‘ or have a look at this overview page which links to all the articles related to the Biennale. If you want to be informed about new previews of national pavilions being added to the site, you can subscribe to The Venice Insider biweekly newsletter.
(Picture in banner: Ground (Somers Farm and Wetlands), 2018 – NMBW Architecture Studio with William Goodsir and RMIT Architecture, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria – Authored by Linda Tegg and Baracco+Wright Architects – With David Fox – © Linda Tegg)
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