Australia's 3D urban visions

Australia announces innovative 3D stereoscopic urban visions for this year’s Venice Biennale: The final selection of entries from the national Designs for Australia's cities 2050+ competition has been announced and will be exhibited in the Australian Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2010. Australia is one of the most urbanised continents on earth, with 93% of people living in cities. The 17 selected proposals are visions of Australia, depicting cities 40+ years in the future. These architectural ideas comment profoundly on urban density and sprawl and will act as a catalyst for debate when exhibited at the Venice Architecture Biennale in August this year. The proposals will be exhibited in the two-part 'NOW + WHEN Australian Urbanism' exhibition. The 'NOW' element will highlight six of Australia's most interesting urban and anti-urban regions as they are, before dramatically representing the recently selected, futuristic urban environments from the competition imagining 'WHEN' we reach 2050 and beyond. ‘Now + When’ will be exhibited on a completely new form of 3D stereoscopic technology, beyond that of the latest cinematic releases, which invites visitors of the Australian Pavilion to move around these urban scenes and experience the urbanised worlds from different perspectives. A total of 17 proposals were chosen from a shortlist of 24 selected from 129 competition submissions, led by the Australian Institute of Architects' 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale Creative Directors, John Gollings and Ivan Rijavec.
Rijavec and Gollings see future urban transformation in Australia being driven as much by political and economic imperatives as by technology and design. The competition was intended to liberate architects from planning and design constraints to encourage hypothetic, futuristic visions. Shortlisted ideas range from proposals for:

New cities housing between 50,000-100,000 people in current desert areas to address our expected population growth; cities in which urban development is concentrated in 'peripheral' areas, such as large landholdings on university campuses, 'big box' shopping centres, business parks, industrial estates, recreational reserves, and market gardens to establish a series of interlinked, self-sustaining districts dispersed along a transport ring.
The ‘Fear Free City', based on the belief that 'any design for a good, sustainable city for the 21st century will demand a theory of hope and the desirable'. Cities which address issues such as: what if a city grows not out, but up or down? What if a city’s growth boundary is not on its periphery but at its heart? What if new planning initiatives were introduced governing the use of air space? Cities 'woven into the landscape' – balancing dense human settlement with flora and fauna biodiversity, with major roadways converted into natural landscape corridors.
Co-Creative Director and well-known architectural photographer John Gollings said, “It was a difficult decision to refine the list as each proposal we received displayed excellence in a range of diverse approaches to imaginative design. We received wonderful, speculative designs and fantastical visions of the future coming from every point of view imaginable, and each one displaying solid thinking behind their ideas.”
Melbourne-based architect and Co-Creative Director Ivan Rijavec said, “In what promises to be the Urban Century, the design and planning of our cities is fundamental to our prosperity and survival. The overarching message of the Venice Biennale Exhibition is that Australian identity has gone ‘walkabout’, it has come out of the bush and bedded down in our urban centres. Though outback and bush myths remain seminal to our culture, there is no doubt that the Australian collective consciousness is now urban.”

Rijavec explains that Venice itself is a pertinent reminder of the threats facing our urban environments: “Venice itself has shown how a city might blossom in a global context, but also how the vicissitudes of a changing world can turn it into a caricature of itself – some 60,000 people live there, while more than 20 million visit it annually. It floods 50 times a year and, saving protective measures, by 2030 it will be under water.”

The exhibition gives expression to Australian ‘urban dreaming’, and in Venice it will be presented in a completely new state-of-the-art, three dimensional format that will change the way Australian urbanism is seen. Rijavec said, “Projections of the stereoscopic 3D images have exceeded all expectations. When shown at exclusive previews they have left their audiences breathless.”

“The extraordinary sequences of images to be displayed in the WHEN component comprise a cyberspace of urban dreaming, that include fantasies, poetic encapsulations, allegories and strong theoretical propositions that are woven into a cinematic performance guaranteed to leave the mind reeling. This will be an exhibition few visitors will forget.”
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