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Black Box – White Cube: Australia’s Biennale pavilion in ERCO light

The attractions at this year’s Venice Art Biennale include the recently completed Pavilion of Australia - the first new structure of a prestigious country pavilion to be built in the 21st century. ERCO spotlights were chosen for the illumination of
its exhibition space.

With the Venice Art Biennale planned again for this summer, the international art scene descending on the Giardini in the east of the city will be greeted this year by a new sight in the enormous park of the exhibition district - the first new structure of a country pavilion to be built this century. Replacing the temporary structure used since 1988, Australia has now erected a permanent venue at a cost of around 7.5 million dollars.

Overlooking the Rio dei Giardini, the pavilion was designed by Australian architecture firm Denton Corker Marshall from Melbourne. Their idea, the result of an architectural competition in 2012, can be summed up as “Black Box - White Cube”. The outside is a monolithic black box, with the new structure resting on a base level clad in the same black granite. The interior is dominated by a large rectilinear space of around 240 square metres that will be used for changing exhibitions. Its design as a white cube accommodates the requirement of a largely neutral and flexible volume intended to house new art presentations year after year.

The illumination of the exhibition space required a flexible, versatile solution. The lighting designers, Arup Australia, opted for a double garland of recessed ERCO track equipped with Opton LED spotlights. These lighting tools lend themselves for use at the Biennale pavilion for several reasons. Their narrow, linear shape ensures that they remain inconspicuous in the background. At the same time, their powerful light makes certain that the room is illuminated as required at all times. Thanks to the interchangeable lenses in the form of ERCO Spherolit lenses, Opton also allows for different light distributions - from Narrow spot, Spot, Flood, Wide flood and Oval flood through to Wallwash. The result satisfies the changing scenographic requirements and ensures ideal illumination effectively for whatever is being exhibited. The lenses, specially developed by ERCO for LED technology, produce highly precise and uniform light that renders objects in brilliant colours while guaranteeing a spectrum free of IR and UV components for optimal protection of the artwork. The decision to specify ERCO’s LED lighting tools was made easy both in consideration of energy efficiency and also for a long service life - a Biennale pavilion, after all, should be built for eternity.

Project data
Project: Australian Pavilion at the Biennale di Venezia, Venice / Italy
Client: Australia Council for the Arts
Architecture: Denton Corker Marshall, Melbourne / Australia
Lighting design: Arup Australia, Melbourne / Australia
Photographer: Sebastian Mayer, Berlin / Germany

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About ERCO

The ERCO Light Factory in Lüdenscheid is a leading international specialist in architectural lighting using LED technology. The family business, founded in 1934, now operates as a global player with over 60 subsidiaries, branches and agencies in over 40 countries worldwide. Since 2015 ERCO's portfolio has been 100% LED. Inspired by "light digital" as its leitmotif, ERCO in Lüdenscheid develops, designs and produces digital luminaires with focus on photometrics, electronics and design. Working closely with architects, lighting designers and engineers, ERCO develops lighting tools used primarily for applications in the following fields: Work, Shop, Culture, Community, Hospitality, Living, Public and Contemplation. ERCO understands digital light as the fourth dimension of architecture - providing highly precise and efficient lighting solutions to support creative designers in turning their visions into reality.
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