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The 2016 NGV Architecture Commissions that could have been

The announcement of the 2017 National Gallery of Victoria’s (NGV) 2017 Architecture Commission shortlist coincided with a pin-up-style exhibition of the 2016 competition entries and a presentation of the previously unseen shortlisted proposals. While the lurid pink Haven’t You Always Wanted…? car wash installation by M@ Studio proved a summer hit, ArchitectureAU takes a look at the other four shortlisted proposals, from a “technicoloured tensile cloud” to a space for communal public sleeping.

GAV by March Studio

GAV by March Studio

Image: Courtesy NGV

GAV by March Studio

“GAV is a technicoloured tensile cloud, traversable on top, discoverable underneath,” said Rodney Eggleston of March Studio, who wondered “if we had reached a state of pavilion overload” and what would happen to John Wardle Architects’ 2016 architecture commission “when it was no longer needed.” March Studio’s design proposed to repurpose John Wardle Architects’ commission by “picking over the bones of the carcass.”

“We flipped him over and created an amphitheatre, then spread his legs deep into the garden, creating new connections and possibilities,” Eggleston said. The reused steel arches would then be draped with rainbow-coloured polypropylene cord, made by a colourblind fabricator of braided rope products. The pavilion would be accompanied by an inflatable screen and host an architecture film festival, as well as a diverse range of events and even “become a symbol for gay marriage.”

Sleeping in Public by Other Architects in collaboration with Anom.

Sleeping in Public by Other Architects in collaboration with Anom.

Image: Courtesy NGV

Sleeping in Public by Other Architects in collaboration with Anom

Other Architects conceived an installation that would be a platform for “unthinkable or unattainable” activities in existing public spaces.

“Christopher Alexander wrote in his book A Pattern Language, ‘The ultimate test of public space is whether a person feels comfortable enough to fall asleep there,’” said Grace Mortlock of Other Architects. “Today, we stigmatize sleeping [in public] and make our public realm defensive.”

Other Architects’ proposal Sleeping in Public is imagined as a “blueprint for a more welcoming, hospitable urban domain,” said David Neustein.

The installation would be a circular timber “island within the island of the NGV garden.”

“Our installation is a hybrid object for communal public sleeping halfway between furniture and building, sculpture and infrastructure and it might be equal parts beach, dune, sundeck, bassinet and amphitheatre,” Neustein said.

The 2016 jury voted to grant a high commendation to Other Architects for their proposal.

The Water Room by Thomas Winwood Architecture (now Winwood Mckenzie).

The Water Room by Thomas Winwood Architecture (now Winwood Mckenzie).

Image: Courtesy NGV

The Water Room by Thomas Winwood Architecture (now Winwood Mckenzie)

Thomas Mckenzie’s design referenced the iconic water wall of the NGV, its relationship to water and the geometry of Roy Grounds design of the original gallery building.

“The Water Room is a CNC-milled foam pavilion, clad in mirror vinyl film from which falls a five-metre-high elliptical water wall. It creates a cool micro climate and a 360-degree impressionist rendering of the surrounding garden,” Mckenzie said.

“The form of the pavilion as elliptical space with perimeter columns reference the form of 18th century English and French garden pavilions.”

Openings in the design have been strategically placed to reference existing artworks in the NGV garden.

NGV Splatter Pavilion by Nervegna Reed.

NGV Splatter Pavilion by Nervegna Reed.

Image: Courtesy NGV

NGV Splatter Pavilion by Nervegna Reed

Nervegna Reed’s proposal takes inspiration from everyday, often unnoticed forms – specifically, a splatter of sauce from takeaway food.

“We painted a perfect splatter that we felt was the pure generator for the form. We scaled it, mirrored it and folded it,” said Anna Nervegna.

“The Splatter seeks to be non-directional and non-hierarchical and the form is open to multiple interpretations, including the butterfly and the arabesque openings which allow access and free associations beyond in the garden.

“The placement of the pavilion aims to interact with sculptures themselves in a triangular arrangement, creating new focal points where the sculptures are reframed.”

In 2016, the four practices received commendations from jury. They were: Johan Hermijanto (Melbourne), Kevin O’Brien Architects (Brisbane), Studio Roland Snooks (Melbourne), Zilka Studio (Melbourne).

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