Opened in 1988, Australia’s Philip Cox designed pavilion in Venice was always intended as a temporary building, lacking permanence and a gravitas.
Not for the first time, attention was drawn to the need for a new building when restaurateur Rinaldo di Stasio mounted an unofficial design competition for a new pavilion in 2008 (coinciding with the 20th anniversary of his eponymous café). Of 450 designers who registered interest in the idea, 168 actually submitted a developed design – half of them were architects operating outside Australia.
That competition was speculative, based not on a substantial brief, but seeking to tease out progressive, creative and outlandish imaginings which, in the process, would generate discussion about Australian culture and its role within broad creative society.
It also fulfilled a long held love Rinaldo di Stasio had for the arts, his patronage of architecture and the celebrations of life we all enjoy via good food and conversation.
The competition engaged interest from artists, architects, politicians and arts bureaucrats around the globe for its freshness, a fruitful production of designs and positive possibilities for the building.
As a consequence, the Australia Council for the Arts commissioned an official design competition in 2011 which will produce results early in 2012, and eventually a new pavilion in Venice due to be completed in a couple of years. The Council has asked Rinaldo di Stasio to share in the development of the new project.
The Australia Council will appoint an architect for the project for the project, which they think will cost around $6million.