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Australia's enigmatic "black box" structure for the Venice Biennale


BY DAVID BASULTO, founder and editor-in-chief of the website ArchDaily

Since 1895, the Giardini has been the main venue for the Venice Biennale. On its grounds sit a collection of architectural gems representing 29 countries. Designed by celebrated architects like Gerrit Rietveld, Sverre Fehn, and Alvar Aalto, these pavilions range from neoclassical to modern, turning the Giardini into a sort of timeline of architectural styles. Just in time for the opening of this year's Art Biennale, Australia inaugurates its new pavilion - the first one built at the Giardini in this century, Designed by Melbourne-based architects Denton Caroler Marshall, the enigmatic black box hovers over the canal, replacing a temporary pavilion built in 1988. "We embraced the responsibility of designing a new structure in such a distinct setting and proposed something different and special, to make the Australian Pavilion a 'must-see' for visitors to the Biennale," says one of the firm's directors, John Denton. The black box is composed of panels that can be opened according to the requirements of each exhibit, adding a dynamic and sculptural accent to its stealthy look. Says Denton: "We saw the 'black box' a little like the black object in Kubrik's 001: A Space Odyssey, just landing in the Giardini from the antipodes." In the interior, this bold image subtly shifts. A white box inside provides neutral space that can be modified to fit a variety of exhibition types. On May 6, the pavilion will be inaugurated for this year's Biennale (through Nov. 22).