Biennale Architettura 2018

Day 7 – Venice
24th May 2018

Biennale Architettura 2018 – La Biennale di Venezia
The Last Hurrah – Farewell Venice

This final post is being written from the plane as I begin my journey back to Sydney. The long trip offers a good opportunity to reflect on the events and experiences of the past week and the extraordinary amount of architecture seen, cities visited and friends made…

In 7 days the tour took us to 11 cities (Amsterdam, Hilversum, Utrecht, Rotterdam, Milan, Verona, Vicenza, Altivole, Resana, Loreggia and Venice), to see 37 buildings, visit 2 factories to finally end in Venice for the Vernissage. Beyond being a study tour, the trip was unique in connecting 50 Australian architects and encouraging the sharing of ideas and conversation – ultimately contributing to the development of a strong national culture. In speaking with participants there was a great sense of gratitude shared towards Brickworks for extending the opportunity.

The second day of the Vernissage encouraged more wandering between the Giardini, Arsenale and further afield to the surrounding islands which were hosting satellite exhibitions. One of the the unexpected delights during my wanderings was the exhibition Pavilion of the Holy See. For the first year, Vatican City was represented through an exhibition on the island San Giorgio Maggiore which became the backdrop for 10 chapels and a pavillion. I spent the morning exploring the extraordinary collection of buildings that formed the exhibit. The collection created a ‘spiritual pilgrimage’ celebrating the chapel as a place of ‘orientation, encounter, meditation and salutation.’

Australian architect, Sean Godsell was invited to design a chapel for the exhibition. Located amongst the wooded forest Godsell’s chapel emerged as a floating silver totem. Constructed of a steel frame which gave structure to a pure extruded square extending tall vertically into the surrounding wooded canopy. Each face hosted an operable awning allowing the chapel to be entirely closed or remain open. Godsell’s chapel was beautifully detailed forming a silver envelope facing towards the surrounding forest. The interior was gold and created a diffused glow across the altar. It was great to see how the design encouraged people to engage with the chapel, curious about the awnings operability and the fold down lectern.

Venice Biennale, Pavilion of the Holy See

Venice Biennale, Chapel by Sean Godsell

The end of the Venissage was marked with the Commissioners cocktail party in the evening, hosted by Commissioner, Janet Holmes a Court at the Petty Officers Navy Club. The event was a lovely way to wrap up the Venice Biennale. Janet Holmes a Court, Clare Cousins and Brett Ward each spoke, sharing their individual perspectives on the Vernissage, particularly focussing on the great representation of Australian work featured. With such a rich amount of content that formed to the biennale, the Cocktail party provided a great forum to discuss the work and gain insight into the extent that remained unseen.

Brett Ward presenting at the Commissioners Cocktail Party


ARTICLE BY Hannah Slater

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. Hannah has tutored in both Australia and Africa across design, material technologies and professional practice units. She has been a contributor to a number of publications including Houses magazine. She has an interest in research surrounding Australian urban design and architecture which has seen a number of articles published and presented at National and International conferences.


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