Articles Kutubu Convention Centre in virtual version of Australia’s Venice Biennale of Architecture display

What we’re looking at through the exhibition is how architects, both non-Indigenous and Indigenous, are working with First Nations peoples – traditional owners, knowledge keepers and elders – as a way of embedding cultural authenticity into our built environment.

Jefa Greenaway, co-curator, Inbetween: Cultural connections through design

Inbetween: Cultural connections through design is an immersive, large-scale filmic experience that features 20 projects in remote, regional and metropolitan locations across all states and territories in Australia as well as New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Fiji and Vanuatu.

Curated by Jefa Greenaway and Tristan Wong, the exhibition was originally created for Australia’s pavilion exhibition for the 2021 Venice Biennale of Architecture. However, COVID-19 restrictions meant that the exhibition could not be installed. Instead Inbetween was reimagined as replicable, digital format that has now been presented in different settings including a university, and private and public galleries.

In response to the 2021 biennale theme, “how will we live together”, Inbetween is a series of architectural projects and processes selected for their powerful representations of Indigenous peoples and cultures.

Each of the projects have enabled cross-cultural exchanges to occur and highlight the importance of – and the need to preserve – Indigenous knowledge, agency and voice.

Kutubu Convention Centre → in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea is one of the projects selected for Inbetween.

Designed by Grimshaw in collaboration with Ignite Architects, Kutubu Convention Centre is a cultural landmark and nation building initiative that provides a world-class facility for the benefit of the broader Papuan community.

Designed to host the 2018 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference, Kutubu Convention Centre is set in a sloping former quarry site in Port Moresby. It is named after the Lake Kutubu region in the Papua New Guinea Highlands province and hosts community arts organisations, presentations and exhibitions, as well as international business conferences and events.

As part of ‘The Cultural Trail’, signage and wayfinding, artworks, objects, and moving image touchpoints pay homage to and connect with the 22 provinces and four regions, the Tok Pisin language, and local artforms of Papua New Guinea to help create an authentic national experience within the precinct.

With design cues taken from Papua New Guinea’s traditional building forms, Kutubu Convention Centre celebrates local culture and identity within an optimally sustainable setting. It provides a striking and highly functional facility which can comfortably host occupants in a tropical climate while minimizing the centre’s energy consumption and environmental footprint.

The signature roof is key to accomplishing these objectives. Spanning 30-metres wide, 100-metres long and rising over 16 metres above the ground, it is a timber structure on a grand scale and is symbolic of the international collaboration and cultural exchange that the project has been formed by.

Inbetween is on display in the National Museum of Australia → in Canberra until 12 June 2022.

Architecture enables us to connect, to evoke Country, to reveal layers of history and memory, and to give cultural expression to our shared humanity through an approach centered on people and how they live and work. This exhibition explores the architecture and architectural practices from a region with the richest and most diverse number of language groups and cultures anywhere in the world and we are delighted to share it with visitors to the National Museum.

National Museum of Australia director, Dr Mathew Trinca

Embedding practices and knowledge that has been around for more than 60,000 years into the way we design buildings creates opportunities for a new kind of architecture that is better for people, cities and the environment.

Tristan Wong, co-curator, Inbetween: Cultural connections through design

Exhibition images: © Aaron Puls and National Museum of Australia