Welcome to Venice!

Day 6 – Venice
23rd May 2018

And we have arrived in Venice! Around 400 Australian architects made their way through the winding Venetian lanes and across the Rialto bridge to a beautiful view of the canal, welcomed on a sunny Wednesday afternoon to the Austral Bricks bar and a serious supply of spritz! The bar became a common meeting place for the next couple of days and the life of the Vernissage, where stories were exchanged, old mates were caught up with and new friends were made.

Thursday marked the opening of the Venice Architecture Biennale Vernissage and the opening of the Australian Pavilion. The Pavilion was opened by a number of the key members of the organising committee.

  • Jill Garner; Chair of the Australian Institute of Architects Venice Biennale Committee
  • Janet Holmes a Court; Commissioner
  • President of the Australian Institute of Architects; Clare Cousins, and
  • Brett Ward; General Manager Marketing, Brickworks Building Products

Finally, the Creative Directors for the Australian Pavilion – Mauro Baracco and Louise Wright of Baracco + Wright Architects, in collaboration with artist Linda Tegg spoke of their approach to the the notion of ‘Repair’ which guided the exhibition. Repair aims to stimulate discussion on core architectural values and focus on work that integrates built and natural systems. Specifically there is a focus on work that aspires to mend or contribute to the repair of other social, economic and cultural conditions.

Following the opening speeches, guests were invited to enter the pavilion which had been completely transformed into a multi-sensory and living installation. Upon entry you are engulfed in a familiar scent that evokes Australia, the landscape and home. The pavilion has become home to ten thousand plants, including 65 species of Western Plains Grasslands. By virtue of the new natural landscape, the space becomes a wonderful soundscape, with the grasslands becoming home to a number of insects, frogs and lizards. The work serves as a reminder of what is lost when we occupy land and create built work. More significantly, the seeds selected are of Indigenous origin, and only one percent of the threatened species exhibited remain.

The project was quite an undertaking, with the seeds being very difficult to transplant and propagate. Collected from a number of sites in Victoria they took approximately 8 months to grow. The result is a beautiful landscape representative of the fragile natural landscape which is often overlooked during the development process.


Following the opening of the Australian pavilion everyone dispersed to explore the Arsenale and Giardini. The 2018 Architecture Biennale has been curated by the creative directors – Yvonne Farrel and Shelley McNamara from Grafton Architects. The works in the Arsenale have been selected and curated around the overarching theme of ‘Freespace’. Freespace celebrates the ‘architectural capacity to find additional and unexpected generosity in each project’. It was wonderful to see the work of Australian Architect John Wardle in the Arsenale, a beautiful timber pavilion rubbed in eucalyptus oil evoked a wonderful scent. The installation was beautifully detailed and encouraged viewers to move through a number of timber fins to catch unexpected views back and out to the surrounding Arsenale.

2018 marks Brickworks 6th consecutive year of sponsorship.

Hannah Slater is a practicing Architect currently working in Sydney with Neeson Murcutt Architects. She completed her studies in Architecture and Interior Design at the Queensland University of Technology. Following her education she spent time in Johannesburg, South Africa, working with Peter Rich Architects on a number of significant cultural projects.

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