Australia’s much-anticipated virtual architecture showcase of unbuilt projects, Augmented Australia 1914-2014 was inaugurated in Venice as part of the 14th International Architecture Exhibition involving 66 countries.

Curated by felix._Giles_Anderson+Goad, Augmented Australia attracted hundreds of visitors from around the globe during its official preview on 5 June, held underneath a specially designed temporary pavilion, the Cloud Space.

Opened by Australian Pavilion Commissioner, Janet Holmes à Court, AC, and Chair of the Australian Institute of Architects Venice Architecture Biennale Committee, Brian Zulaikha, the exhibition included demonstrations of the Augmented Australia app that visitors could download for free on their handheld smart devices and begin a virtual journey through 23 of Australia’s most intriguing unbuilt projects.

For the visitor, Augmented Australia’s virtual experience begins under the Cloud Space where display images of each project automatically trigger 3D augmented models, animations and interviews when viewed using the app.

The Australian exhibition then steps into the real world with scale augmented models of each building geographically positioned in various locations around Venice, making Augmented Australia the largest exhibition of its kind ever seen.

Describing the exhibition as a precursor to the future, Creative Director Rene Van Meeuwen of felix. commented that they have used pioneering augmented reality technology to bring to life some of Australia’s best unrealised designs.

David Gianotten, Managing Partner of leading international architecture firm, OMA found the interaction between new media and the public realm very interesting. He observes that the showcase of Australian architecture in a different context through virtual means enriches the perspectives to think about the country’s architecture.

The final eight unrealised historical projects were also revealed at the press preview and include: 

  • The Capitol, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory by Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin;
  • ANZAC Memorial, Hyde Park, Sydney, New South Wales by Raymond McGrath and Maurice Lambert;
  • Adelaide Boys’ High School, Adelaide, South Australia by Frederick Romberg;
  • The Great Hall, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland by Stuart McIntosh;
  • Public Office Buildings, Perth, Western Australia by GW Finn, EH Van Mens & PC Maidment;
  • State Library of Victoria and Museum of Victoria refurbishment, Melbourne, Victoria by Edmond and Corrigan with Clive Lucas and McConnel Smith and Johnson;
  • Silver City Museum, Broken Hill, New South Wales by Glenn Murcutt.

Above: The Temporary Augmented Australia Cloud Space Pavilion. Image: John Gollings.

All 23 projects can now be explored through the official Augmented Australia Catalogue available for purchase online and through the app. The catalogue features essays on each project from leading architects, critics and academics, along with trigger images and video commentary that is activated through the app.

Van Meeuwen notes that the best part about constructing the exhibition in augmented reality is that a lot of the virtual content can be enjoyed by people from anywhere in the world.

Above: Image from Augmented Australia 1914-2014 – Minifie van Schaik, Caught Unawares, 2013, Sydney. Digital reconstruction by Ben Juckes.

Below: A digital reconstruction of the 1958 Nervi Cathedral, from Augmented Australia 1914-2014 – Pier Luigi Nervi, Antonio Nervi, Carlo Vannoni and Francesco Vacchini, Cathedral, Abbey and Benedictine Monastery, 1958, New Norcia, Western Australia, Australia. Digital reconstruction by Matt Delroy-Carr, Keith Reid, Scott Horsburgh. 

The Augmented Australia app is available to download from the App Store (for iPhones) and Google Play (for Android).

Augmented Australia is open to the public throughout the 14th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice from 7 June to 23 November 2014.