Grimshaw NGV Pavilion 2016 hero shot. Image courtesy of Grimshaw

Grimshaw's NGV Pavilion 2016 entry

The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) recently announced the shortlist of architects for its 2016 pavilion in the Grollo-Equiset Gardens within the grounds of the NGV.

Five practices will now proceed to stage two of the competition. They are:

Grimshaw Archtects' Melbourne office was one of 93 entrants who submitted a design for the competition following an internal design competition which resulted in 3 concepts being taken forward to develop into a single design response. Working together with structural engineers Bollinger Grohmann, Grimshaw's response blends architecture, engineering and sustainability into a dual arched structure unified via a series of threaded nylon ropes.

Our proposed NGV Pavilion comprises two tensioned timber arches anchored and united via nylon static rope to define a series of flexible informal gathering spaces. The arches are of modular blocks and can be used beyond the life of the pavilion’s installation within the NGV gardens. These blocks are made of laminated wood covered with a hardwood veneer.

The modular design enables a variety of re-configurations – as single seating elements or combined to form other pieces of furniture. This reduces the amount of waste generated by the pavilion’s construction and generates further uses such seating distributed around the city.

Grimshaw design statement
Pavilion plans and elevations. Image courtesy of Grimshaw

Grimshaw's entry was designed to respond to the immediate context of the NGV Gardens, integrating with the existing hardscape and sculptures, and drawing on the larger built heritage of the Arts Precinct. The design specifically celebrated the Arts Centre; the spire is a landmark of civic pride, ambition, compromise, hope and, ultimately, material innovation.

The structure had been considered as a bridging element, draped lightly over the site to join and separate a series of spaces of various uses. It’s webbed materiality contrasted with the solid impenetrable stone exterior of the NGV. The rope was woven in varying densities to provide shade where required and define the spaces. These spaces can be used for smaller informal gatherings or much larger performances and talks.

An opportunity for a suspended work of art had been provided within the roped web on the northern side, referencing the larger performance area. Collaboration with an installation artist or sculptor would work with the architectural expression of this piece.

Pavilion vignettes. Image courtesy of Grimshaw

In terms of construction materials, Grimshaw nominated static nylon rope and 450mm x 450mm Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) blocks to form the primary structural elements. The LVL blocks have a dual purpose as seating elements both during and post installation, promoting sustainability via re-use of materials and components.

The method of installation was via modular construction of the arches – formed by a sequence of LVL blocks – which are assembled on the ground to achieve the desired geometry and then lifted and fixed into position through tensioned cables. The ropes are threaded through and tied together with a combination of knots and simple cable clips, facilitating disassembly and minimising waste.

Minimal connection points are required with the pavilion embedded into the ground at four points where the two primary arches are fixed to footings. This strategy reduces the pavilion’s footprint, touches the ground lightly and eases rectification works to the soft and hard landscaping within the gardens following decommission.

Structural concept and materiality. Image courtesy of Grimshaw

Editor's note: the author is a part-time employee in Grimshaw's Melbourne office. Laurence will be showcasing his own design for the NGV pavilion next week.

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