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    Water, water everywhere (from Rime of the Ancient Mariner)

    Deborah Singerman

    The Australian Exhibition at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale will feature the Pool by increasingly high profile architectural practices, Aileen Sage and Michelle Tabet. It was chosen by the Australian Institute of Architects’ Biennale Committee, in their words, for its “incisive interest in the connections between landscape, culture and architecture as observed through the frame of a singular architectural and landscape typology”. The importance of bringing these influences together via something as Australian as a pool is strengthened  by it being in the Denton Corker Marshall-designed pavilion, which opened in May and is the first new pavilion to be built in the famed Giardini this century.


    Photography by John Gollings.

    Light, scent, sound, reflection and perspective will be aiming to give “an immersive multi-sensory experience (creating) a series of perceptual illusions”. A number of Australian pools - natural or manmade, inland or coastal, temporary or permanent – will also be profiled as part of the exhibition...

    “From pools of necessity to the pools of excess, the pool is a key architectural device, a memory and also a setting. It has the unique ability to evoke both the sacred and the profane and also aptly represents a distinctively Australian democratic and social space – a great leveller of difference,” say the creative directors.

    Sydney-based Aileen Sage was founded by Isabelle Toland and Amelia Holliday. The pair teamed up with Michelle Tabet, an urban strategist with her own consulting practice, to develop the winning concept. They will also be working with cross-disciplinary collaborators including senior advisor, Olivia Hyde. They also worked with Neeson Murcutt Architects on the City of Sydney’s award-winning Prince Alfred Pool.

    Another new Sydney pool will be within the aquatic and leisure centre at Green Square (pictured above). Architect Andrew Burges won the design competition, and in keeping with the times, wants to break away from the artificiality of many such centres, bringing the “pleasures of swimming in the natural environment …  while also referencing the industrial history of this part of the city”.

    Immersive aquatic artwork on a 33 metre long ledge within Paddington Reservoir Gardens by artist Dale Jones-Evans is another pool of water, this time with a swimmer completing laps though not for real but rather created by light and sound projections. (pictured below, image source: City of Sydney)

    Again Inspired by history, the reservoir brought water to parts of Sydney in the late 1880s, but limited elevation meant that only the top five feet of water could be used to service dwellings; hence the name Top5Feet. Launched for this year’s Art and About festival, it is a collaboration with Axolotyl featuring their glass, light, sound and animation filmed at Andrew (Boy) Charlton pool.

    Axor’s latest bathroom mixers can be composed individually. Called WaterDream they inspired a memorable title for the company’s Milan Expo exhibition, Create your own Spout. The Dank Street Camellia Morris Gallery has her Blue paintings, which explore “the interplay of moods and emotional responses that moving water evokes”, and the Swedish Bolon’s latest collection, called Flow, is a transparent weave inspired by the ocean with the soft pastel shades seemingly in motion.

    Deborah Singerman runs her own writing, editing and project managing consultancy specialising in the urban built environment and community.  @deborahsingerma

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