New Zealand’s pavilion at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale is titled ‘Future Islands’. Led by creative director Charles Walker, the exhibition is set to inspire and engage.
Island of memory, island of longing, island of prospect and refuge, island of hospitality, (un)natural island, island of making and unmaking, emerging island, re/claimed island, and the last island — these are the nine islands of New Zealand’s exhibition at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2016.
Lyrical and evocative, Future Islands sets out to establish New Zealand as innovative, creative, forward-thinking and bold.
It is a story about New Zealand, but a conceptual connection to Venice is at its heart. The exhibition’s structure is derived from Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, a book framed around a conversation about cities and life between Marco Polo and the Mongol Emperor Kublai Khan. Over nine chapters, the famous Venetian explorer recounts tales of 55 wondrous cities he has seen, the conceit being that all the stories are fictional descriptions of Venice.
As a response to Calvino’s 55 ‘cities’, Future Islands will feature 55 architectural projects, deployed on nine ‘islands’ — multiple representations of New Zealand and its evolution within global networks.
The exhibition’s creative director is Charles Walker, associate professor in AUT University’s Faculty of Design and Creative Technologies and director of Colab, AUT’s multi-disciplinary research institution. “Islands have always provided real sites for different ways of living, and imaginary sites for possible ways of living differently,” Walker says. “They have inspired romantic and utopian narratives, and they have always been, literally, places of discovery.