Alison Brooks Architects has contributed to Future Assembly, an exhibition within the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale, located in the Central Pavilion in the Giardini. Future Assembly is a collaboration between Studio Other Spaces and six co-designers.
The installation ‘The Umbrella Islands’ is inspired by Alison’s annual pilgrimage to the Umbrella Islands of Lake Huron in Ontario, Canada. Part of the Canadian Shield, it is a four billion-year-old landscape and the largest area of Archean Era rock that is still visible at the Earth’s surface.
The installation consists of four 63.5mm diameter core samples from this ancient rock formation, set in timber trays. It offers visitors and members of the Assembly a sensory sampling of the Shield, embodied by the Umbrella Islands. To accompany this are geological maps of the islands and a selection of Alison Brooks’ personal photographs that reveal the haunting beauty of the islands.
It is the direct connection to an Archaean Era environment and the incomprehensibly long timeframe that the rocks have witnessed that makes the experience of visiting the Umbrella Islands so powerful. Through reading its layers, the core samples legibly express this temporal vastness. Through tactile encounter with the samples, we offer visitors contact with the oldest representative of the Earth’s crust. In contrast to the rock’s immutability, the photographs reveal the Islands’ fragile ecosystems and their fleeting contacts with the human body, reminding the Assembly and its audiences of our species’ fragile presence on Earth.