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Students exhibit at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale

12 May 2016

A group of University of Sydney students will participate in the premier Venice Architecture Biennale, which is expected to draw around 200,000 international visitors from 28 May to 27 November 2016.

Twelve 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 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 a field of 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 said: “This is a prestigious opportunity for our Master of Architecture students to take part in this significant international architecture festival and showcase their talent on a world stage.

“A very talented group of students has spent the past four months developing their designs and fabricating architectural models that reflect, both philosophically and materially, on the political, social and environmental role of architecture.”

The Venice exhibition looks at current international trends in architecture, while highlighting fundamental philosophical questions about time, space and existence as they relate to human beings’ place in the world.

The University of Sydney students will jointly exhibit their work with twelve projects from Auckland University of Technology, as part of a combined international travelling studio.

The studio 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, 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 are novel architectural investigations that critique the role of architecture in an increasingly global, mediated and deterritorialised world. Through their works, the students are calling into question human-centric legacies of architecture, which gives special privilege to humans as the rational and political animal,” said Professor Michael Tawa, Program Director, Master of Architecture, University of Sydney.

The Venice Biennale dates back to 1895, when the first International Art Exhibition was held. Today it is 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 Hezlet Bequest Travelling Scholarship set up by the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Architecture of Architecture, Design and Planning.