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Australian Pavilion in Venice Showcases a New Perspective on Cities
Steve Whitford and James Brearley, Symbiotic City.
VENICE.- At this year’s 12th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice, Australia is showcasing a collection of dramatic urban visions using ground-breaking 3D stereoscopic technology, allowing visitors to move around a range of existing and hypothetical urban environments.

Led by the Australian Pavilion’s Creative Directors, John Gollings and Ivan Rijavec, the 'NOW and WHEN Australian Urbanism' exhibition will act as a catalyst for debate on the future of our cities, engaging in timely issues that include sustainability, urban sprawl and density, and immigration.

The exhibition features two theatres. The NOW theatre highlights five of Australia's most interesting urban and non-urban regions as they are now, captured by Co-Creative Director and well-known architectural photographer, John Gollings.

In the second theatre, 17 futuristic urban environments imagine WHEN we reach 2050 and beyond. Depicting Australian cities 40+ years into the future, these ideas are the result of a national competition set by the Australian Institute of Architects. The visions range from a city that is powered by mould, one that is based on ‘aquaculture’ and regions that are connected by central ‘spines’.

“By combining the NOW and WHEN components, we hope that the exhibition provokes discussion around issues of urban density and sprawl and inspires society to question how it can improve its cities,” said John Gollings.

Melbourne-based architect and Co-Creative Director Ivan Rijavec said, “In what promises to be the Urban Century, the design and planning of our cities is fundamental to our prosperity and survival.” Rijavec explains that Venice itself is a pertinent reminder of the threats facing our urban environments: “Venice has shown how a city might blossom in a global context, but also how the vicissitudes of a changing world can turn it into a caricature of itself – some 60,000 people live there, while more than 20 million visit it annually. It floods 50 times a year and, unless drastic protective action is taken, by 2030 it will be under water.”

Rijavec and Gollings see future urban transformation in Australia being driven as much by political and economic imperatives as by technology and design. Australia could become the world’s fastest growing industrialised nation over the next four decades; its projected population growth of 65% by 2050 is almost double the global rate.

The national competition for WHEN submissions was intended to liberate architects from planning and design constraints to create a vision of the future. ‘NOW and WHEN’ tackles questions such as: Is it better for cities to grow horizontally or vertically? What if a city’s growth boundary is not on its periphery, but at its heart? What if new planning initiatives were introduced governing the use of air space? Gollings said, “It is my hope that it will generate new ways of thinking about urbanism. This exhibition distracts the pragmatists inviting them into an imaginative realm, which I hope will re-inform their urban planning strategies.”

'NOW and WHEN’ is being exhibited on a completely new form of 3D stereoscopic technology, which goes beyond the latest cinematic releases. Visitors to the Australian Pavilion will be able to move around these urban scenes and experience the urbanised worlds from different perspectives.

Co-Creative Director John Gollings said, “The latest 3D stereoscopy will enable visitors to look at our NOW cities from an entirely different viewpoint – as a part of a symbiotic system of connected parts. Imagining what the future might look like, the ‘NOW and WHEN’ exhibition goes beyond the way we see our environment right now.”

“3D is really a way of getting closer to a holographic and virtual experience and making it seriously exciting to view. ‘NOW and WHEN’ is approachable on a lot of different levels so there is something for the person who is interested in any number of factors: architecture, photography, architectural rendering, the development of stereoscopic technology, theories of urbanism or futurism. I wanted to make sure that ‘NOW and WHEN’ is controversial and contentious, but also engaging and entertaining.”

The exhibition gives expression to Australian ‘urban dreaming’. Rijavec said, “Projections of the stereoscopic 3D images have exceeded all expectations. The extraordinary sequences of images to be displayed in the WHEN component comprise a cyberspace of urban dreaming, that include fantasies, poetic encapsulations, allegories and strong theoretical propositions, woven into a cinematic performance guaranteed to leave the mind reeling. This will be an exhibition few visitors will forget.”

Ivan Rijavec | 12th International Architecture Exhibition | John Gollings | Australian Pavilion |




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