The good news is that the Australia Council for the Arts has announced plans to build a new Australian pavilion in Venice, the bad news is that it plans to choose a design based on an invited competition. This is an invitation to mediocrity, which is coming out of our ears at the moment. A new biennale pavilion would seem to be the ideal excuse for a big public competition, which in my opinion should be open to artists as well as architects. As a brief, a biennale pavilion is not exactly the Large Hadron Collider. Australia was lucky to score one of the last sites left in the Giardini, and what gets built there ought to be be surprising, delightful and provocative. Australians love their sheds, and an open competition would be an opportunity to build the Ur-Shed, the mother shed, as it were. If you agree, then please sign the petition set up by OpenHAUS.
The saga of Sydney’s Barangaroo has finally reached the point where its twists and turns are no longer predictable. The developer Lend Lease and its resolutely faux design, once paced to a seemingly unassailable lead by a compliant government and a shameless PR operation, has punctured a tire. Without a spare tube or pump, they wait by the side of the road for a team car which itself has been totaled. Meanwhile “sandal-wearing, muesli-chewing, bike-riding pedestrians” are gaining fast. No one knows how many kilometres there are to go. Consider recent events:
The question of Canberra remains, if not the most urgent, one of the most interesting in Australian urbanism. The city was shaped by its time, sited to placate a rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne which still exists and a threat of Russian invasion which now seems unlikely. For all who have ever found themselves haunted by the place, either in the form of nightmares or dreams, the launch of the CAPIThetical, “a competition for a hypothetical Australian capital city,” is exciting news. CAPIThetical is timed to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the capital design competition in 2012, and is backed by the federal and ACT governments, the Australian Institute of Architects and a gaggle of universities and professional organizations.