Twelve students from the University of Sydney are participating in the prestigious Venice Architecture Biennale for the first time as part of an international travelling studio. To run from 28 May to 27 November 2016, the Venice Architecture Biennale is expected to draw around 200,000 visitors from around the world.

The 12 Master of Architecture students are exhibiting speculative architectural models in Time, Space, Existence at the grand Palazzo Mora in Venice, one of the major Biennale collateral exhibitions organised by the Dutch not-for-profit Global Art Affairs Foundation. The students will jointly exhibit their work with twelve projects from Auckland University of Technology.

The student models will be seen alongside an international group of emerging and established architects from six continents, including Eisenman Architects (USA), Denise Scott Brown (USA), and Maki and Associates (Japan) as well as leading international architecture schools including ETH Zurich (Switzerland), KIT (Germany), MIT (USA) and Tsinghua University (China).

Professor Michael Tawa from the University’s Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning observed that the international architecture festival presented a prestigious opportunity for their students to showcase their talent on a world stage.

The theme ‘Zoon Politikon’, or ‘The Political Animal’, is an idea derived from Aristotle, which the studio developed through the philosophical works of Jacques Derrida, Giorgio Agamben, Michel Foucault, Walter Benjamin and Jean-Luc Nancy among others. The projects are framed around general themes of sovereignty, biopolitics and the state of exception, as they apply to architecture, ethics and civic space, as well as themes of salvation and profanation in relation to architectural form and materiality.

The models being exhibited by the Master of Architecture students are novel architectural investigations that critique the role of architecture in an increasingly global, mediated and de-territorialised world.

The Venice Biennale, which dates back to 1895, is today one of the most prestigious cultural institutions, which runs the International Art Exhibition and Architecture Biennale every other year. This year marks the 15th International Architecture Exhibition.

The international travelling studio was made possible in part through the Hazlet Bequest Travelling Scholarship set up by the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning.

Image: Harriet Kensell, University of Sydney Master of Architecture student, with her work Amorphe: Ghosting showing at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale. Photo: Louise Cooper.