Denton Corker Marshall’s Australian Pavilion for the Venice Architecture Biennale has been voted the best international project from an Australian architect for 2016.

The project pipped the National Gallery Singapore by Studio Milou with CPG Consultants, which received a National Award, to win the Jorn Utzon Award for International Architecture as well as a host of other shortlisted projects including China Mobile Office Suzhou (China) by JPW, The Lalu Hotel Architecture, Qingdao (China) by Kerry Hill Architects, Vanuatu (Vanuatu) by Troppo Architects and the Australian Memorial Wellington (New Zealand) by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer with Paul Rolfe Architects.

The Pavilion opened in 2015 and in time for the 2016 Biennale which housed Australia’s “The Pool” exhibit.

It was designed by DCM after they were unanimously selected by a jury in 2012 from a shortlist of Australian firms.

View the full list of winning projects from the 2016 National Architecture Awards here.

Read the full jury citations for Australian Pavillion, Venice (Italy) by Denton Corker Marshall and National Gallery Singapore by Studio Milou with CPG Consultants below:

The Jorn Utzon Award for International Architecture - Australian Pavilion, Venice (Italy) by Denton Corker Marshall 


Jury citation: Surely it is every architect’s dream to design their nation’s pavilion in Venice. In 2011, the Australia Council for the Arts gave a select few the chance to compete to do so. Denton Corker Marshall emerged as the victor, and Australia managed to deliver what many nations have struggled in recent times to achieve: the construction of a new building in the Giardini della Biennale. To try to represent an entire nation’s history of architecture in one pavilion would have been remiss. The architects have instead opted to create an adaptable and utilitarian black box, almost devoid of style, which can be transformed by those invited annually to do so. 

Situated off the beaten track and behind such powerhouse nations as France and the United States, the Australian pavilion humbly sits in the background, respectful of the historic garden setting. To date we’ve seen two shows in the new pavilion. Fiona Hall painted the white interior black, while Aileen Sage Architects and Michelle Tabet flooded the space with a 300-millimetre-deep pool, confirming the architects’ successful intent for the interior to be forever reinterpreted. A series of large operable panels and flaps unfold from the solid black granite mass, further articulating the building’s ability to be reconfigured. A gentle sloping ramp at the entrance reminds us of the old Cox pavilion that formerly sat on the site. At the top of the ramp the pavilion emerges confidently from the trees, showing a touch of Australian muscle and cantilevering out over the Rio dei Giardini canal. The architects have further illustrated their resourcefulness by nominating the area underneath the cantilever, shaded from the hot summer sun, as a spontaneous prosecco bar.  

Australian Award for International Architecture - National Gallery Singapore (Singapore) by Studio Milou Singapore with CPG Consultants


Jury citation: Setting out to design the largest modern art institution in South-East Asia, by integrating two major existing public buildings in Singapore – the former Supreme Court and the City Hall – is no easy undertaking. studioMilou has achieved a highly sophisticated result through a system of thoughtful and creative architectural interventions, namely an expansion of the public forecourt and the introduction of a new stair and a veil-like roof structure.

There is a clear intention to unite the new with the existing through the addition of this concourse between the two iconic buildings. The new stairs create a direct link to the galleries above. This connection made across the galleries ensures that the spaces no longer have to function independently and the experience of the gallery becomes coherent. The veil that drapes over the entry gives the facade a new identity, clearly contrasting with the existing structure. At a closer scale, this veil dapples light into the space and its tree-like branch structure makes the roof feel like the canopy of a tree. Although enclosed, the space below the veil feels open, light and, in a way, understated.