May 28, 2016 - Nov 27, 2016


Australia - Biennale Architettura 2016

'The Pool: Architecture, Culture and Identity in Australia', created by Aileen Sage Architects (Amelia Holliday and Isabelle Toland) with Michelle Tabet.

The Pool exhibition
"The Pool is a setting for the sharing of stories. A place to slow down, relax, to listen, observe and read."

In Australia, the pool takes many forms. In the bush, a waterhole, a dam, a billabong; on the coast, a concreted cavity gouged from the rocks over which the surf spills and crashes. Mysterious and familiar, tame and wild, natural and man-made: a pool is where the communal and the personal intersect. The Pool is an exhibition about public space and public debate. It steps outside of the architect-to-architect discourse to shed new light on a familiar, everyday space pregnant with cultural significance for Australia. As an architectural device the pool represents a physical edge but it also expresses a social and personal frontier. This is explored through the narratives broadcast in the exhibition space for which we have selected eight storytellers: Olympians Shane Gould and Ian Thorpe; authors Anna Funder and Christos Tsiolkas; musician Paul Kelly; environmentalist Tim Flannery; fashion designers Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales from Romance Was Born; and Indigenous art curator Hetti Perkins. Their inteviews reveal stories of fulfilment and accomplishment, of segregation and inclusion, of learning from the past and reflecting for the future, all through the lens of the pool. We have designed the exhibition as an assemblage, an abstract composition of architectural elements that reference the myriad inspiring pools across Australia. Our design also responds to the very specific context of the recently opened Denton Corker Marshall-designed Australian national pavilion in Venice: a sharply defined onyx box on the edge of a canal. We invite you to immerse yourself in these stories, to enjoy the pool and to share your own anecdotes with those around you.

The Pool Soundtrack
The Pool Book
This companion publication to the Australian Exhibition at the Venice Architecture Biennale considers the pool in Australian life and architecture through the reminiscences and anecdotes of many: from children to teachers, swimmers to onlookers, architects to their clients. Eight prominent Australians have also shared their stories: Shane Gould, Ian Thorpe, Anna Funder, Christos Tsiolkas, Paul Kelly, Tim Flannery, Romance was Born and Hetti Perkins. The pool is revealed in these accounts as a vital force in Australian life, not only as the setting for formative childhood memories, but also as the stage for impressive sporting feats that fuel the nation's pride. A backdrop to many significant events in our communities, it is also a deeply contested space in the history of Australia, that has highlighted racial discrimination and social disadvantage. Designed to offer a richer experience of the exhibition, the publication is a compendium of the research and the stories the Creative Directors revealed in their process. It is designed to be accessible and visually appealing but also intimate in tone. While it should work as a standalone publication, it should also give visitors to the exhibition a deeper and more meaningful engagement with the themes being explored. The Pool: Architecture, Culture and Identity in Australia retails at $AUD 39.95 and is available through Books at Manic,

"Some of the big permanent pools in the centre went for kilometres and were full of life. But Aboriginal people would never go near them because the water was genuinely the source of life and their prey drank at that water.”

Tim Flannery: The Giving of Life

“I like the way that water becomes a collaborator for what I am trying to do; it’s having an intimate understanding of how water will move from your body, what it will sound like and also what it may feel like at that time.”

Ian Thorpe: Bodies of Water

"I have fond memories of the local pool. I remember the feeling of going into a race, the adrenalin and how nervous I was about competing. Everyone was yelling and screaming for their team colour, it was such a fun, spirited place.”

Romance Was Born: Childhood Memories

"All of my favourite pools in this city – whether it’s Brunswick or Northcote, are full of life. They are full of kids jumping in and old women gently paddling in the water. It’s the conversations in the change rooms, it’s alive and I think that’s important.”

Christos Tsiolkas: Other Worlds

"I think the pool is really pivotal for a local community, like a public library. They are the pillars of a community. The library is a place where you can go and dive into knowledge for free and endlessly and in your own time and the pool as well.”

Anna Funder: Public Dreaming

"I love to be around the pool but I don’t need to be in the water. I love the sound of water, the reflection, the play of light. The pool is like an art installation, the light, the sound, the visual appeal of it, the immersiveness of it.”

Hetti Perkins: Contested Space

“That’s how a community is built, when people get together. At the pool, teenagers learn how to relate and how to behave, children see old wrinkly people and young babies. It can really help people understand the community and the world.”

Shane Gould: Theatre of Competition

"As you move through life, it seems to be a series of steps into deeper and deeper water. What comes along in life are the things that we don’t know. The things that everyone goes through but are not known until you do it yourself.”

Paul Kelly: Deeper Water
People at The Pool
The Pool is a place, a platform, a bridge between people. It is a well-known Australian public space, where the personal and the communal intersect. We welcome people to come and sit by the pool and stay for while one of the sun loungers or on the bleachers, and listen to the voices of Australians as they talk about their connection to what is one of Australia's most important architectural features and social spaces. We invite you to dip your toes in the water or run your fingers across the surface and watch the light ripple over the walls, ceiling and bottom of the pool. We encourage you to notice the scents, listen for the sounds, and enjoy the perceptual illusions created by this multi-sensory exhibition. Sit back, read the paper and enjoy The Pool.

The Pool Creative Directors, Amelia Holliday (from Aileen Sage), Michelle Tabet (from Left Bank Co.) and Isabelle Toland (from Aileen Sage), Australia's youngest and first all-female creative team.

Aileen Sage Architects with Michelle Tabet, for the Australian Institute of Architects
Credits: Story

The Pool: Architecture, Culture and Identity in Australia
Australian Pavilion
15th International Architecture Exhibition la Biennale di Venezia 2016
28 May – 27 November 2016

Project Team:
Commissioner - Janet Holmes à Court
Creative Directors - Isabelle Toland, Amelia Holliday, Michelle Tabet
Creative Team Advisor - Olivia Hyde
Graphic Designer - Stephen Goddard / Project Two
Photographers - Brett Boardman and Alexander Mayes
Sub-editor - Jeanne Carey
Lighting Designer - Nick Schlieper / Sydney Theatre Company
Assistant Lighting Designer - Sian James-Holland
Sound Artist/composer - Bree Van Reyk
Interview Editor - Kate Montague
Industrial Designer - Elliat Rich with the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT)
Scent Artists - Lyn & Tony with Maison Balzac
Builder - David Lakes / Lochbuild
Engineering - Event Engineering
Pool Engineer - Livio Chiarot
Project Manager - Shelley Kemp, Joshua Morrin, Hahna Busch

Made possible by the Australian Institute of Architects

Credits: All media
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