The Australia Pavilion at the Venice Architecture BiennaleExclusively revealed here is a copper The Empire Hotel is being rebuilt in Queenstown.

The pavilion, Unsettling Queenstown aims to bring attention to colonialism by focusing on a number of settlements called Queenstown.

The Australia Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale is centered on colonialism

“The pavilion explores the concept of decolonisation, on both local and global scales,” curators Anthony Coupe, Ali Gumillya Baker, Julian Worrall, Emily Paech and Sarah Rhodes told Dezeen.

“It looks at what architects are doing and can do to actively decolonise places and spaces, while reflecting on the historical legacies of colonialism and extractivism. It aims to both evoke emotions and engage the intellect.”

Australia pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale
The upper outline is of a Queenstown hotel

The exhibition focuses on the legacies of two settlements – a copper-mining town named Queenstown in Tasmania and Queenstown in South Australia – that both ” bear the scars of colonisation and resource extraction”.

The curators explained that Queenstown was not only a real place but also a metaphor for the exhibition. “We use the word Queenstown to refer to the structure of colonial and imperial relations throughout Australia and across the world.

They continued, “It is also significant that Queen Elizabeth died last year.” “At the end of the second Elizabethan age, and the beginning of a new reign, the time feels right to question the relics of the British Empire, and Australia’s place within the Commonwealth.”

Copper outline of hotel
Model is 70 percent scale

The pavilion’s central feature is a replica of the Belvedere Empire Hotel, built in Queenstown in Tasmania in the year Australia was formally established.

The copper tubes used to outline the structure were a tribute to the town’s history as a mine for copper.

“A belvedere is an architectural structure built for taking a view and surveying a landscape – this serves an effective representation of the colonial approach to taking possession of a territory, as well as a symbol for our current moment of retrospect and prospect,” explained the curators.

“Its arched form is typical of the neo-classical language of the British colonial architecture of the time, and so is both a deeply meaningful place for Queenstown Tasmania and emblematic of the way colonial settlement formed a template stamped on the landscape of Australia and across the world.”

Model of hotel at Australia pavilion
Model includes the Belvedere

The curators developed a series audiovisual and visual exhibits for the Australian pavilion. designed by Australian studio Denton Corker Marshall and opened in 2015. The displays will demonstrate how colonisation and mining can be reduced.

“Queenstown’s existence was based on extraction – as a copper mining settlement with production processes that have been highly destructive to the environment, precipitating acidification, deforestation, and water pollution,” the curators said.

“The colonial exploitation of the environment that Queenstown represents also led to the genocidal destruction of pre-existing peoples and cultures,” they continued.

“Many of the tactics we are showcasing look to reverse this pattern, restoring nature and reinstating indigenous relationships with the land.”

Exhibitions at Venice Architecture Biennale
The hotel is surrounded by exhibits

The exhibitions aim to also draw attention to how British mapping erased the names of Indigenous Lands.

“Cartography is a colonial tool, for acquiring, representing, and manipulating knowledge of spaces and territories,” said the curators. “It also has had the effect of erasing the knowledge and spatial patterns of First Nations peoples.

“Demapping is what we are calling the process of peeling back the layers of delineations and names that have been imposed upon places, while forming new understandings and re-imaginings of Aboriginal knowledge and worlds,” they continued.

Australia pavilion
The pavilion was curated by Anthony Coupe, Ali Gumillya Baker, Julian Worrall, Emily Paech and Sarah Rhodes

Dezeen is the first to show off the Australia pavilion. Dezeen was the first to show off other pavilions, including Danish pavilionThe US pavilion, British pavilion and the Finnish pavilion that “declares the death of the flushing toilet”.

Tom Roe is the photographer.

Dezeen is live reporting From the Venice Architecture BiennaleSee the, which will take place between 20 May and 26 November 2023. See Dezeen Events Guide For all the information you need about the event and a list of other design and architecture events around the globe, please visit the website.

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