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Australian pools get international architectural recognition

Australian pools get international architectural recognition
July 8, 2016

The role of Australian municipal and ocean swimming pools as hubs of social, cultural and recreational interaction is being celebrated as part of an exhibit at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale.

The exhibition, The Pool, likens Australia’s public pools to the piazzas of Italy as places of public architecture and gathering.

Based around a 60 metre² pool (filled with water 30 centimetres deep), the exhibition fills the main room of the Denton Corker Marshall-designed Australian pavilion, first unveiled at last year's Venice Biennale of Art, which sits on the edge of the world famous city’s canals.

Visitors to the installation can sit by the pool in sun loungers made by the Centre for Appropriate Technology, a not-for-profit Aboriginal organisation in Alice Springs, and listen to the voices of influential Australians, including Olympic swimmers Ian Thorpe and Shane Gould, as they talk about their relationship with the public pool.

Commenting on the exhibit, Thorpe explained “Australians have a very particular relationship with water, which is shown in many different ways through the pool as an important social space in our country.”

While having received financial backing from the Federal Government’s controversial Catalyst arts funding program, the exhibit also has political points to make.

The curators highlight how municipal and ocean swimming pools are under threat as they age, facing increasing maintenance costs and, in many cases, declining usage, as a result of competition from other leisure activities.

They explain that “the installation amounts to one big, emotive campaign to save Australia’s pools.”

In addition, the experience of Aboriginal activist Charles Perkins, in exposing prejudice in NSW in the 1960s is told. Perkins was part of the Freedom Ride of 1965 which exposed rampant racial segregation and discrimination against Indigenous Australians at the time, including pools that denied access to indigenous children.

Summing this up, the curators add “the pool is ... a vital force in Australian life, not only as the setting for childhood memories, but also as the stage for impressive sporting feats that fuel the nation’s pride.

“A backdrop to many significant events in our communities, the pool is also a deeply contested space in the history of Australia, that has highlighted racial discrimination and social disadvantage.”

The pool is built using the stainless steel construction technology of Italian-based Myrtha Pools.

Myrtha, which has strong links with Australia and New Zealand having recently marked the completion of over 100 projects in the region, fully understand the significance of the exhibit, releasing a statement that explains “The Pool is a portrait of all the powerful meanings and impacts of a pool in social life: building closer communities, being a collective space of integration and delivering smiles.”

Myrtha Chief Executive Roberto Colletto adds “the absolute integration between architecture and the surrounding environment has always been our inspiration and mission, as we aim to create pools where water is an essential element of cultural identity.”

The Venice Architecture Biennale, the 15th International Exhibition of Architecture, runs until 27th November.

The Pool: Architecture, Culture and Identity in Australia, the companion publication for the exhibition, is being stocked at book stores around Australia.

The Pool is the basis of a feature in the May/June 2016 issue of Australasian Leisure Management.

To contact Myrtha Pools' Australian and New Zealand representatives, click here to view the Myrtha Pools listing in the Australasian Leisure Management Supplier Directory.

5th July 2016 - 21ST BIENNALE OF SYDNEY APPOINTS FIRST ASIAN ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

17th March 2016 - MYRTHA POOLS’ COMPONENTS USED IN ARTISTIC INSTALLATIONS

7th May 2015 - NEW AUSTRALIAN PAVILION OPENED AT THE VENICE BIENNALE

4th May 2015 - OUTDOOR SEASONAL POOLS UNDER ONGOING THREATS

17th February 2015 - MYRTHA MOVABLE BULKHEADS ALLOW MULTIPLE POOL ACTIVITIES

28th January 2015 - FREEDOM RIDE RE-ENACTMENT TO MARK 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF INDIGENOUS RIGHTS CAMPAIGN


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