Australian Pavilion for Venice Biennale Winning Proposal / Denton Corker Marshall

main entry / Courtesy of

Denton Corker Marshall recently won an international design competition to design the new Australian pavilion in Venice’s Giardini della Biennale, the heart of the prestigious Biennale events. The new pavilion will be the first of the 21st century contributions to the Giardini, which is undergoing revitalisation by the Biennale. It will replace Australia’s current pavilion, designed as a temporary structure by Philip Cox in 1988. Within a footprint of approximately 320m2, the two-level pavilion will provide a new flexible and adaptable exhibition space to showcase Australian visual arts and architecture to international audiences at annual biennales. More images and architects’ description after the break.

canal view / Courtesy of Denton Corker Marshall

The winning design is of the utmost simplicity, architecturally expressed as a white box contained within a black box. The architects have avoided imposing a mannered architectural ‘event’ on the artworks displayed within, rather creating a container on and in which ideas can be explored where the container in no way competes with those ideas. It is proposed that the matte charcoal finish of the exterior will be from South Australian black granite. The interior gallery walls are standard white, and the floor is polished concrete. Free from affectation and obvious nationalistic statement, it is a powerful, confident yet discrete object within the heavily wooded gardens.

east view / Courtesy of Denton Corker Marshall

Conceived as object rather than building, Director John Denton says the design continues the firm’s interest in the small scale architecture of their series of country houses – such as View Hill and Phillip Island houses, which develop around themes of European intervention in the Australian landscape and architecture as land art. Venice holds a special place in the art and architecture worlds, and Denton – who is also Chair of the Australian Center for Contemporary Art – is excited for the practice to win this competition. “I believe it will be a building that will proudly represent Australia and be recognized as a powerful addition to the pavilions in the Giardini,” Mr Denton said.

site plan

“Denton Corker Marshall was considered the outstanding choice to undertake this significant project,” said Chair of the Australia Council, Mr James Strong AO. “We are inspired by their creative vision, confident in their ability and excited by the potential for a truly exemplary building all Australians will be proud of.” Australia’s new pavilion is due to be completed for the opening of the 56th International Art Exhibition, Venice Biennale 2015.

Cite: Furuto, Alison. "Australian Pavilion for Venice Biennale Winning Proposal / Denton Corker Marshall" 08 Apr 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 Sep 2014. <>


  1. Thumb up Thumb down +4

    Your statement that “Denton Corker Marshall recently won an international design competition” isn’t entirely correct. The competition was limited to Australian architects with experience in public art gallery design and who have worked internationally. A very limited group. A quick search will show how contentious this was within the architecture community in Australia.

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      Samuel’s comment is not entirely consistent with:

      “Organised by the Australia Council for the Arts, the competition received sixty-seven entries, with six firms selected to progress to stage 2 of the competition – Denton Corker Marshall, Sean Godsell Architects, John Wardle Architects, Bud Brannigan Architects, Peter Stutchbury Architecture and Johnson Pilton Walter.”

      Even the short list don’t all have the restrictive qualifications mentioned. I guess DCM’s determination to pitch their overseas work into design led, competitive space pays off in projects like this going their way. Good luck to them.

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