NGV Architecture Commission Design Competition 2018
2018 celebrates the 50th anniversary of The Field, the National Gallery of Victoria’s first temporary exhibition held in its new St. Kilda Road building. In 1968, The Field was a pivotal event in the history of Australian art, launching the careers of some 40 young contemporary artists.
Our joint entry to the 2018 NGV Architecture Commission Design Competition (with Alex Peck and Renee Weeden), The Fields Pavilion, explores how architecture might be experienced in the same way the Field artists intended their works to be perceived. With no written explanation, the artist created artworks composed of colour, line and shape with the intention of engaging immediately with the onlooker.
In referencing this approach, we see parallels between the discipline of art and architecture and the opportunities that exist. The Fields Pavilion provides a visually engaging environment that encourages the spectator to become physically active within. A landscape of props inspires intended activities, whilst a changing composition of coloured and mirrored geometric voids invites movement and participation below.
Positioned centrally to the gallery building and entry to the garden, the Pavilion has been abstracted from Roy Grounds original design for the National Gallery of Victoria. A view through the rear window of The Great Hall frames the intended geometry of the pavilion. Here visitors see a composition of coloured shape beyond the tight permeable netting that envelops its rectilinear structure. These can be read as a sequence of dynamic architectural events dropped into the pavilions three central voids, their ephemeral nature not dissimilar to the temporary exhibitions these same voids host in the NGV. Their presence from different vantage-points across the garden offer alternating compositions of shape, colour and texture, while the rectilinear structure emphasizes line – qualities inherent in artwork presented at The Field exhibition.
The architecture is designed to float above the grounds, allowing observation into and conversely beyond its perimeter walls. The built form has been cited to maximize use of the existing landscape, bluestone paving encouraging movement and performance in and around the pavilion, while greener areas provide opportunities for rest and reflection.
Movement into the pavilion is not dissimilar to entry into the gallery. Visitors pass under a low ceiling into a tall volume of light. The absence of permanence in the void allows for a changing program of activity. In our design proposal it is imagined that the primary structure becomes a receptacle for architectural moments, in this case, coloured volumes of changing shape through light and reflection. Referencing The Field exhibition and its canvases, often perceived as objects, the volumes instead hover over a landscape waiting to be activated by the presence of an audience. In his catalogue essay, Patrick McCaughey describes artwork from The Field becoming an “active, dynamic object acting its visual drama out on the senses of the spectator” . Each internal face of the void geometry is conceived as a field of colour extending and reflecting beyond the surface of the material.