Australia didn’t get the memo. Its contribution to the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale, which opens to the public Friday, is a celebration of swimming pools. The centerpiece — an actual pool inside the Denton Corker Marshall-designed pavilion — is a delight, but it has nothing to do with the Biennale theme, Reporting from the Front, established by curator Alejandro Aravena and meant to focus on ways architecture can help relieve the problems of the disadvantaged. True, public pools are a big part of Australian culture, but they’re not the kind of architectural humanitarianism Aravena had in mind.
The U.S. did get the memo, and answered it—with 12 speculative projects for four sites in Detroit that are crying out for innovation. The projects are smart, and much of the material filling the pavilion to the rafters, including a model by Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects, is visually compelling. (RECORD is a media sponsor of the U.S. Pavilion).