Academic named creative director of Australia pavilion for 2020 Venice Architecture Biennale

Venice Architecture Biennale 2020 submission
In | between will explore the links between Australia's First Nations peoples and the country's Pacific neighbours.

Lecturer in architecture at the Melbourne School of Design Jefa Greenaway has been named co-creative director of the Australian Pavilion at next year’s Venice Architecture Biennale, alongside, University alumnus Tristan Wong, director of architects SJB.

The pair’s proposal, entitled In | between, looks at the links between Australia and its Pacific Island neighbours and will explore breaking down barriers, highlighting the potential for architecture to grow cultural understanding between First Nations peoples and others, particularly Australia and the Pacific.

Mr Greenaway said he was honoured to have been awarded the prestigious creative directorship of the pavilion.

"We are equally excited and daunted by what will be an enthralling journey, knowing that with bold ideas come significant responsibility. We are committed to the values and ethics that underpin our thinking which will guide the way," he said.

"I truly believe that architecture can be an agent for positive change and that we can facilitate cultural conversations around Indigenous knowledge systems, while showcasing that 67,000 years of continuous connections has tangible value – which continues to be reflected within the built environment in new and innovative ways."

The Australian Institute of Architects chose the entry from proposals submitted from around the country, praising it for the way it engaged with the theme.

Mr Greenaway said the pavilion design was "a series of powerfully optimistic works, reflecting an Indigenous ethos within a contemporary setting."

"Architecture becomes the enabler to connect, to evoke Country, to reveal layers of history and memory to give cultural expression, predicated on a people-centred approach to a shared humanity. The pavilion will become a vessel for ideas predicated on an understanding of processes which embrace and envelope the visitor," he said.

"It will create an immersive experience of Country, of language and diversity including defined spaces which speak to our near neighbours of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. The palette will provide a tactile quality of earth, of texture and of colour. Central to the space will be a moment of pause, contemplation and knowledge exchange."

The 17th biennale will be curated by US architect Hashim Sarkis, who has set the theme, How Will We Live Together? asking participants to consider: "elevating architecture, rather than promoting it; cooperating, rather than competing; focusing on solutions rather than problems; geographies of inclusion, rather than exclusion; and highlighting the universality of unique experiences."

The project is to be presented by a creative team including comedian and writer Tim Ross, academic Elizabeth Grant, Aaron Puls, Jordyn Milliken, Dom Bunnag and Jason Tam.

Australia is one of just 29 countries to have a permanent space at the International Architecture Biennale, the world’s most prestigious forum for design and architecture, to be held from 23 May to 29 November 2020.

Mr Greenaway is available for comment on the winning proposal.