December 15th, 2021.
A beautiful architectural installation, replete with a pink pond evocative of Australia’s inland salt lakes, has been revealed as the winner of the NGV’s 2021 Architecture Commission in the Grollo Equiset Garden at NGV International.
Designed by a Melbourne-based team comprising architecture firm Taylor Knights in collaboration with artist James Carey, the installation, entitled pond[er], offers a space for visitors to cool off during the summer months and reflect on their relationship with the environment and our shared future living successfully together on the driest continent on earth.
Referencing Sir Roy Grounds’s inclusion of three open-air courtyards in the original design for NGV International, this architecture and landscape installation comprises two key design elements: a body of indigenous plants and a body of water. The body of water is coloured pink, making direct reference to the many inland salt lakes in Victoria and highlighting the scarcity, importance and political implications of water as a fundamental yet increasingly scarce natural resource. The inclusion of Victorian wildflowers that bloom at different times throughout the installation seeks to highlight the beauty, precariousness and temporality of natural ecology, as well as inviting reflection on our future custodianship and care of the environment.
Envisioned as a space that becomes part the NGV garden rather than a separate architectural object, pond[er] invites audiences to move through a series of interconnected walkways and accessible platforms. Visitors can immerse themselves within and explore the spaces of flora and water and can even step down and wade through the pink pond.
In response to the 2021 competition brief, the materials that have been selected for the project are locally sourced and manufactured, and wherever possible, are intended to be distributed and used again by various Landcare, Indigenous and community groups upon deinstallation.
Tony Ellwood AM, NGV Director said: ‘Year after year, the NGV’s annual architectural competition sees our garden transformed by an ephemeral work of architecture and design. The 2021 commission, pond[er], offers a moment for quiet contemplation and conversation as we consider the natural world and the essential nourishment and resources it provides. Through an elegant interplay of architectural and landscape elements, this work draws our attention to the challenges facing Australia’s many catchments and river systems, whilst also ensuring that the design itself has minimal environmental impact by considering the future lifecycle of the materials used.’
Each year, the annual commission is selected via a two-stage national competition, in which architects or multi-disciplinary teams are invited to submit a design for an engaging temporary structure or installation to activate the Grollo Equiset Garden, one of Melbourne’s great civic and cultural spaces.
The NGV Architecture Commission has previously been designed by Yhonnie Scarce and Edition Office (2019), MUIR + OPENWORK (2018), Retallack Thompson and Other Architects (2017), M@ STUDIO Architects (2016), John Wardle Architects (2015).
The 2021 NGV Architecture Commission will be on display from November 2021 – April 2022 at NGV International, St Kilda Road, Melbourne. Free entry.
Words | Courtesy of Taylor Knights
Photography | Derek Swalwell