Weave Youth and Community Services by Collins and Turner. Photography by Richard Glover.

Ten thousand native Australian plants will be installed at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2018—a reminder of the relationship between architecture and land.

‘Grasslands Repair’, a multi-sensory exhibition, will see 65 endangered species from the Victorian Western Plains Grasslands featured in and outside the Australian Pavilion designed by Denton Corker Marshall. Suspended over the field and beneath the ceiling will be ‘Skylights’—100 LED lights simulating the sun’s energy, and sustaining the plants.

The project is part of this year’s Australian exhibition, and follows the theme ‘Repair’, led by creative directors from boracco+wright architects, in collaboration with artist Linda Tegg.

The seeds—30,000 in total—were sowed in Italy in late 2017. The plants will now be transported to Venice.

“The use of nature, mainly plants, as part of architectural and urban design, has so far been used most commonly to aesthetic and micro-climatic ends,” boracco+wright architects says,

“Architects must develop this relationship to form a more sophisticated understanding of ecology in order to design buildings that actively catalyse repair of the ecosystems of their site, surroundings and larger systems they are a part of: their organisms, soil structure, hydrology, vegetation, connection to larger natural systems and habitat. Many Australian architects have been working in ways that are adopting such an approach.”

Complementing ‘Grasslands Repair’ and ‘Skylight’ is ‘Ground’, a series of videos shot by Tegg showcasing 15 built and unbuilt Australian projects that seek to simultaneously occupy land, and repair it.

These projects include Weave Youth and Community Services by Collins and Turner—the transformation of a dated converted toilet block overlooking a skate park, into a space that revitalised the community without a huge impact on the park or drastic increase of the building footprint.

The Walumba Elders Centre by Iredale Pedersen Hook, a house for elderly Aboriginal people in Western Australia, is another project being showcased at the 2018 biennale.


The Walumba Elders Centre by iredale pedersen hook architects (ipha) took home the top gong at the 2015 Sustainability Awards. Photography by Peter Bennetts.

The 15 projects were selected from 126 submissions across Australia, and will be displayed on large screens in the pavilion. The full list include:

  • Wave Hill Walk-Off Pavilions by Bower Studio, University of Melbourne
  • Weave Youth and Community Services by Collins and Turner
  • Grassland Common: Linking Ecology and Architecture (unbuilt) by D Lab RMIT University
  • Triabunna Gatehouse by Gilby and Brewin Architecture
  • Walumba Elders Centre by Iredale Pedersen Hook
  • Glebe4: The Foreshore Walk by James Mather Delaney Design
  • Garden House by Baracco and Wright Architects 
  • Ngarara Place, RMIT University by  Greenaway Architects
  • Shepparton Art Museum (unbuilt competition entry) by Kerstin Thompson Architects
  • Arden Macaulay Island City by Monash University Urban Laboratory 
  • The Globe by M3 Architecture with Brian Hooper Architect
  • Prince Alfred Park and Pool Upgrade by Neeson Murcutt Architects with Sue Barnsley Design Landscape Architecture 
  • Kullurk/Coolart: Somers Farm and Wetlands by NMBW Architecture Studio with William Goodsir and RMIT Architecture
  • Featherston House by Robin Boyd
  • Main Assembly Building, Tonsley Innovation District by Woods Bagot with Tridente Architects and Oxigen 


Prince Alfred Park & Pool, Sydney by Sue Barnsley Design. Photography by Brett Boardman.

“[We] have often struggled with our relationship as architects in the use of land. It’s no small act,” Baracco and Wright said.

“How we as architects can do this will be an exciting development of an architecture not yet fully imagined. Our hunch is that it requires trans disciplinary methods, a coming together across disciplinary boundaries, and a widening of the architectural knowledge base to a front end detailed understanding of a site across multiple scales, where the very small scale action has a role in the large scale, and a facilitation of repair of the environment through the many decisions we make.”

The 16th Venice Architecture Biennale will kick off on 26 May and be held through 25 November. The overarching theme of the biennale is ‘Freespace’.