Augmented Australia Opens At Venice Biennale

Monday, June 16th, 2014
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Augmented Australia Cloud Space
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An exhibition that showcases the best of Australia’s “unrealised” architecture has been unveiled at the annual Venice Biennale in Italy.

The showcase, entitled Augmented Australia 1914-2014, was curated by felix._Giles_Anderson+Goad and sits within a temporary pavilion known as the Cloud Space.

A mobile application specifically designed for the exhibition enables users to digitally immerse themselves in a virtual journey of 23 historical and contemporary projects of Australia’s most intriguing unbuilt projects.

The exhibition responds to the Biennale’s 2014 theme, Fundamentals, proposed by curator Rem Koolhaas. Koolhaas said the theme is to display concepts that are “about architecture, not architects.”

Digital reconstruction by Ben Juckes

Augmented Australia: Digital reconstruction by Ben Juckes

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,” he said. 

The exhibition was opened by Australian Pavilion commissioner Janet Holmes à Court and chair of the Australian Institute of Architects’ Venice Architecture Biennale Committee Brian Zulaikha.

The opening also had demonstrations of the official Augmented Australia app that brings the augmented buildings to life.

The Cloud Space features display images of each project, and visitors are invited to point their smart devices at the images to automatically trigger 3D augmented models, animations, voiceovers and interviews.

Beyond its location in Venice’s Giardini, the home of the Biennale since 1985, real-world scale augmented models of each building are scattered across Venice, making it the largest exhibition of its kind ever seen.

Tower Skin by LAVA

Augmented Australia: Tower Skin by LAVA

In addition to virtual activities, visitors will also get a glimpse of Australia’s new pavilion via a 1:1 scale virtual model. The new pavilion, designed by Denton Corker Marshall, is due for completion by May 2015 and will take over Australia’s original pavilion, which was designed by Philip Cox and has stood at the Venice Biennale since 1988.

“We’re very excited to share Augmented Australia with the international architecture and design community,” said felix. creative director Rene Van Meeuwen.

“Through pioneering augmented reality technology, we’ve be able to bring to life some of our country’s best unrealised designs and explore new possibilities in the world of augmented reality and architecture. No one has ever executed an exhibition of this scale with buildings of this scale using augmented reality – in a sense the exhibition is a precursor to the future.”

David Gianotten, managing partner of leading international architecture firm OMA attended the opening and found the pavilion fascinating.

“It’s interesting to see how new media and the public realm interact with each other,” he said. “The showcase of Australian architecture in a different context through virtual means enriches the perspectives to think about the country’s architecture.”

New Venice Biennale Pavilion by Denton Corker Marshall

New Venice Biennale Pavilion by Denton Corker Marshall

Eight unrealised historical projects were also revealed at the press preview, including:

  • The Capitol, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory by Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin
  • ANZAC Memorial, Hyde Park, Sydney, New South Wales by Raymond McGrath and Maurice Lambert
  • Adelaide Boys’ High School, Adelaide, South Australia by Frederick Romberg
  • The Great Hall, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland by Stuart McIntosh
  • Public Office Buildings, Perth, Western Australia by GW Finn, EH Van Mens & PC Maidment
  • State Library of Victoria and Museum of Victoria refurbishment, Melbourne, Victoria by Edmond and Corrigan with Clive Lucas and McConnel Smith and Johnson
  • Silver City Museum, Broken Hill, New South Wales by Glenn Murcutt

“The fantastic thing about constructing our exhibition in augmented reality is that a lot of the virtual content can be enjoyed by people from anywhere in the world. The exhibition will also be able to live on through the catalogue,”said Van Meeuwen.

Along with the app, all 23 projects can also be explored through the official Augmented Australia Catalogue, which features essays on each project from leading architects, critics and academics, along with trigger images and video commentary that can be activated through the app.

The exhibition will be open to the public throughout the 14th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice until November 23, 2014.

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