In 2015 The Pool victoriously emerged as the winning proposal for Australia’s exhibition at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale. Creative directors Aileen Sage and Michelle Tabet explained that the pool is ‘… a lens through which to explore Australian cultural identity’ and ‘aptly represents a distinctively Australian democratic and social space.’

In Australia the pool popularised in the post-war period, particularly in Queensland where it offered relief from the long, hot and humid summers. Although Brisbane already had several floating baths along the Brisbane River since the mid 19th century, large-scale in-ground pool construction in the State did not start in earnest until the mid 1950s, when the personal and social benefit of recreational time with family and friends became well established. In Queensland, as elsewhere in the country, the government strongly supported the construction of swimming pools and many became memorial pools, dedicated to those who had fought to defend an Australian ‘way of life’. Their design was to reflect the civic and social foundations of the initiative and in Queensland architects visibly took delight in all the opportunities it afforded. The result was a widely diverging collection of predominantly humble and economical structures that were rarely ordinary or dull. Analysing three key pools that were constructed in outback Queensland between 1955 and 1965 – Rockhampton, Mackay and Miles – this paper draws out some of the defining features of Queensland’s modern memorial pools, and highlights how this typology became the quintessential ‘Australian democratic and social space’.

Janina Gosseye, Alice Hampson, “Queensland Making a Splash: Memorial Pools and the Body Politics of Reconstruction”, Queensland Review 23: 2 (December 2016): 178-195. DOI: 10.1017/qre.2016.28

Read full paper here.