One of Australia’s great cultural symbols, the pool, will form the foundation of the nation’s exhibition at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale.

The Pool by Sydney based practice Aileen Sage and urban strategist Michelle Tabet, announced as the winning proposal in Sydney and Melbourne on April 21, will profile some of Australia’s most remarkable pools, whether they are natural or manmade, inland or coastal, temporary or permanent.

Visitors will be transported poolside through an immersive multi-sensory experience within the new Denton Corker Marshall-designed pavilion. Light, scent, sound, reflection and perspective will work together to create a series of perceptual illusions that bring a particular Australian architectural condition to Venice.

“From pools of necessity to the pools of excess, the pool is a key architectural device, a memory and also a setting,” the Creative Directors said.

“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.”

Newcastle Baths. Image: Terry Rich Australia

According to the Australian Institute of Architects’ Venice Biennale Committee, the winning concept was selected over four other shortlisted proposals for its “incisive interest in the connections between landscape, culture and architecture as observed through the frame of a singular architectural and landscape typology”.

Winning concept

Left-to-right: Amelia Holliday, Michelle Tabet, Isabelle Toland. Image: Alex Mayes

Aileen Sage was founded by Isabelle Toland and Amelia Holliday, who teamed up with Tabet to develop the winning proposal. They have assembled a number of cross-disciplinary collaborators to inform, refine and complement their skills and technical knowledge, including Senior Advisor, Olivia Hyde.

The 2016 Biennale will see the inaugural architecture exhibition in the new Australian Pavilion, which opens in May this year, and is the first pavilion to be built within the Giardini in the 21st century.

Pools in Remote Areas - Santa Teresa Pool. Image: The Centralian Advocate

Prince Alfred Park Pool by Neeson Murcutt Architects. Image: Brett Boardman