Lightning Ridge hot artesian baths - Photo: Simon Bayliss, courtesy of Lightning Ridge Tourism Association.

Lightning Ridge hot artesian baths – Photo: Simon Bayliss, courtesy of Lightning Ridge Tourism Association.

Venice Biennale 2016 – In 1965, Indigenous activist Charles Perkins brought his kids to the  Moree Artesian Baths in New South Wales, Australia, a pool for white people only… And won a battle against racism waking up the conscience of a country of swimmers by the poolside. Until then, “we thought we were a lucky country. It revealed that it wasn’t: some people weren’t as lucky as others” says Hetty Perkins, daughter of Charles – Watch the short reportage by The Guardian.

Australian Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2016 - Photo by Brett Boardman.

Australian Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2016 – Photo by Brett Boardman.

Visitors of the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale can discover this and other stories at the Australian Pavilion in Giardini. A swimming pool, a light scent of chlorine and rippling reflections on blue painted walls invite to discover the social and cultural importance of municipal pools. Here Australians fronted segregation and battled for human rights, defining their own national spirit.


RELATED STORIES: Read more about Venice Architecture Biennale 2016 on ArchiPanic.

Clovelly Bay enclosure, Clovelly, New South Wales. Photo: Abdul Moeez.

Clovelly Bay enclosure, Clovelly, New South Wales. Photo: Abdul Moeez.

The exhibition is presented by the Australian Institute of Architects and curated by Aileen Isabelle Toland and Amelia Holliday of Sage Architects and urbanist Michelle Tabet. The Pool encourages the audience to step outside the architect-to-architect discourse to show how a familiar, common object, the pool, is both artefact and catalyst of change.

Bondi Icebergs (1945), restored by Marchese Partners in 2002. Photo: Jenna Rowe.

Bondi Icebergs (1945), restored by Marchese Partners in 2002. Photo: Jenna Rowe.

Pools in Australia are currently facing significant challenges as social institutions. The threatened closure and demolition of Australian public pools is a perennial theme of community protest and activism and is an issue to which architects and urban commentators are inevitably drawn” say curators.


RELATED STORIES: Read more architecture and design from Australia on ArchiPanic.

Australian Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2016 - Photo by Brett Boardman.

Photo by Brett Boardman.

The main room of the pavilion features a water-filled pool, which covers about a third of the space, and is about a foot deep. Across the pool guests can relax on wooden bleachers. Eight prominent Australians including  Olympic champion Ian Thorpe and Hetty Perkins share their memories and stories about their relationship with pools. The stories can be heard in eight different points of the pavilion.

Australian Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2016 - Photo by Brett Boardman.

Photo by Brett Boardman.

Australians have a very particular relationship with water, which is shown in many different ways through the pool as an important social space in our country” said Ian Thorpe to Archipanic at the inaugural event of the exhibition.

Fitzroy Baths originally constructed in 1908, restored post 1994, Melbourne, Victoria. Photo: Peter Bennetts.

Fitzroy Baths originally constructed in 1908, restored post 1994, Melbourne, Victoria. Photo: Peter Bennetts.

Hetti Perkins, daughter of Indigenous activist Charles Perkins, sees the opportunity for pools to serve as an effective social leveller, which has yet unfulfilled potentials between indigenous community and the rest of the country. For author and essayist Anna Founder, pools can be seen as a secular alternative to religious spaces of communion.

Mouyong Farmhouse tank pool, designed by Jackson Clements Burrows Architects, rural Victoria, 2015. Photo: Jackson Clements Burrows Architects.

Mouyong Farmhouse tank pool, designed by Jackson Clements Burrows Architects, rural Victoria, 2015. Photo: Jackson Clements Burrows Architects.

Lounger were commissioned from indigenous workers at the Centre for Appropriate Technology in Alice Springs and in collaboration with industrial designer Elliat Rich. The designs steel-framed seatings were designed with the vibrant colors of Central Australia and are laid out by the poolside.

Australian Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2016 - Photo by Brett Boardman.

Photo by Brett Boardman.

The exhibition inaugurates also the new Australian Pavilion at Giardini designed by Denton Corker Marshall. Those who wish to immerse in a deeper story can find more informations in book that features also a selection of some of the most recent pool architectures in Australia.

Australian Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2016 - Photo by Alexander Mayes.

Australian Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2016 – Photo by Alexander Mayes.

All photos: courtesy of Australia Pavilion.

Australian Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2016 - Photo by Brett Boardman.

Photo by Brett Boardman.

Clovelly Bay enclosure, Clovelly, New South Wales. Photo: Abdul Moeez.

Clovelly Bay enclosure, Clovelly, New South Wales. Photo: Abdul Moeez.