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Denton Corker Marshall unveils Australian pavilion

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Denton Corker Marshall has unveiled this pavilion showcasing Australian art at the 2015 Venice Biennale


The practice has described its €7 million pavilion for the major contemporary art exhibition as ‘a white box within a black box’.

The 567m2 Pavilion of Australia forms part of the 56th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, which opened this week.

It features a black granite exterior with large operable panels that open up to reveal the interior and provide natural light into the gallery space inside.

The internal ‘white box’ gallery space has been designed to the largest dimensions allowed on the biennale site.

Australian Pavilion by Denton Corker Marshall

Australian Pavilion by Denton Corker Marshall

The architect’s view

‘Our idea for the new Pavilion of Australia was to create a simple yet powerful pavilion – a distinct presence within the Giardini della Biennale, yet sensitive to the historic gardens and surrounding pavilions. We also wanted to create a pure, timeless sculptural object that could exude both subtlety and confidence within the context of the Giardini. Thus, we designed a white box within a black box, carefully positioned on the site to ensure minimal impact on the existing landscape.

I’n the interest of both artists and visitors, we were determined not to cross the line of architectural expression by competing with display content. The white box interior is a pure rectilinear space of an almost perfectly square proportion. It is the largest single volume that the site allows, thus providing maximum exhibition flexibility.

‘The black box exterior is a rectilinear block modified to incorporate a cantilever over the canal-side pathway. Its granite exterior can nearly disappear into the treescape or assert its power, depending on one’s angle of approach. The black box also features large operable panels on three faces, which may be opened to reveal the interior, or to provide natural light or a sense of vista.

‘By allowing the opening of the panels, this otherwise solid, singular object is able to change character, chameleon-like, as the exhibitions themselves change within – closed and mysterious, open and visually accessible, or extroverted and colorful. One of these panels, the entry platform, is positioned for views of the canal, bridge, and Giardini, and was envisaged as a space for outdoor gathering, reinforcing a sense of arrival and placing the pavilion’s entry in wide public view.

‘In designing the pavilion as a sculptural object or, a box inside a box, we envision it as a container, transporting it from Australia to Venice. We like the idea of a mysterious black box that opens up to reveal its contents particularly in the context of the Giardini, which closes during the winter months and reopens in the spring.’

Australian Pavilion by Denton Corker Marshall

Australian Pavilion by Denton Corker Marshall


Project data

Location Giardini della Biennale, Venezia
Project type arts pavilion
Architect Denton Corker Marshall
Client Australian Council for the Arts
Structural engineer Arup
M&E engineer Arup
Project manager InTeA
Contractor SICOP
Local architect FARE Studio
Local M&E and structural engineer STEAM
Area 567m2
Construction cost €7 million
Start on site December 2013
Completed March 2015

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