NGV Summer Architecture Commission - John Wardle Architects

Celebrate the official opening of the 2015 Festival of Landscape Architecture: This Public Life in the picturesque surrounds of the National Gallery of Victoria’s Persimmon and Gardens. Enjoy canapés and beverages in the newly reinvigorated NGV Garden, whilst connecting with the This Public Life creative directors along with Festival speakers and industry peers.

Date: Thursday 15 October 2015
Time: 6:00 – 8:00pm
Location: Persimmon, National Gallery of Victoria International, 180 St Kilda Road Melbourne (entry via North Entrance Garden)
Cost: $55.00
To register: click here

The Summer Architecture Commissions are a new initiative of the Department of Contemporary Design and Architecture offering the opportunity for emerging and established architects to present their architecture to a broad audience in the Grollo Equiset Garden at NGV International. For 2015 John Wardle Architects (JWA) has developed the inaugural Commission.

Taking inspiration from the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, an iconic public performance venue in Melbourne, JWA’s playful steel, timber and textile structure will create a theatrical centrepiece offering shade, retreat and a place for performance and workshops.

Adaptable and evocative, the structure merges the digital and the handmade. The design utilises 3D modelling and cutting edge engineering and fabrication systems to achieve the generous span of a lightweight steel structure. Beneath this outer high-tech layer of precision-engineered steel is a low-tech layer of timber, and a mass array of 1350 hand folded polypropylene elements. These 3-D textile elements are individually suspended to create a textural pink skin that provides colourful shade by day and a unique nocturnal glow.

The structure is open sided, lifting dramatically on high arches. It provides partial enclosure for visitors while also fostering conversations about the capacity of architecture to activate and enrich public spaces, and the role of the architect to work in collaboration with industry to devise new and progressive fabrication and construction systems that deliver technical, structural and ecological benefits.

“People normally look at a building the way it appears at first glance or from a distance. What kind of form does it have? What kind of silhouette does it create? In the mid range, there’s the question of how a building sits abutting a certain aspect of landscape, the ground surface or a neighbouring building. Finally, at a detailed level, there’s a textural fascination with being up close and drawing in all of the senses, such as the acoustic qualities within buildings, the tactile aspects and the strong visual aspects of being right up close.Most buildings require these three levels of appreciation. Very often it’s the third level – the detail – that provides disappointment. We want to get in close and interrogate the detail. That’s often something that will draw a person back to a place for a second or third reading because of the level of richness of the experience.With the Summer Architecture Commission we are looking at these three levels while also paying homage to the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. An iconic Melbourne building that is an amazing, graceful, exuberant and incredibly innovative piece of civic design of that era.We thought maybe we could draw from the forms and expression of the enclosure, put it in a different landscape and build it out of a new structural system, that was more related to our time.We’ve never had to design a building where the process of dismantling and possible reuse has come into play. We asked ourselves could it be disassembled and reassembled? Can it provide for other uses? Can it be manipulated to take on a whole new range of performative possibilities?

Similar to the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, a high level of engineering sophistication and material specificity is integral to the design in order to delicately balance the duality of span and strength. These properties come from both its form and materiality in equal balance.

The structure started its life as a lightweight timber structure and has evolved into something different. Through this process of resolving the design and following the project’s innate ‘invented logic’, it has lead to innovations in its own right.”

— Architect’s statement

Architects John Wardle Architects (John Wardle, Stefan Mee, Mathew Van Kooy)
Engineer John Bahroic
Lighting Design Electrolight
Lighting System Light Project
Landscape Design Oculus
Fabrication and Assembly Engineering Directions
Textile Skin Megara
Paint Dulux

Originally published on the NGV website. Read full article here.