Wednesday, December 14, 2022

NGV - an open letter


Mr Tony Elwood,

Director  NGV

I just read about the ‘new’ NGV building been given the nod by someone.

I have to say I think we have wasted time, talent and money failing to embrace architecture which would be seen as ‘fantastic’ in 100 years.  There are so many absolutely gob-smacking buildings around the world whilst we end up with mediocrity.  For example, Federation Square is a joke because it does not embrace our upside down river and has no architectural merit.  Another example was the proposed redevelopment over Flinders Street Station.  The designs were awful especially when we have Gare De Lyon  in Paris as a beautiful blueprint.  Fantastic ‘classical’ architecture ignored.  On the other side of the coin is the soccer stadium which typifies the game, is great architecture and conveys an ethos which is palpable.

The brutalist structure that is the NGV has never been a landmark other than a grey lump on St Kilda Road.  Obviously there are parts which demand respect such as the water wall and the stained glass ceiling but overall is lacks dynamism.  It’s a lump.  Good buildings flow!

How about dealing with this structure first!  Make it sing!

I am an idiot but even I can see concept flaws that can be addressed quickly and easily. 

There are two elements at play - firstly the ‘grey walls’ with zero life and secondly the outside ‘ponds’ also being imagination stagnant. There is no soul and no smiles.  Just the opposite are the lit ‘birds’ on the nature strip which are fantastic and playful and worthy of respect.  Proof is in watching kids faces as they see ‘stuff’.  Building ‘0’, birds ‘10’. 

However, the grey lump is a perfect backdrop for ‘art’ being nondescript whilst allowing ‘things’ in front to sing.  A contained line of sight.

My suggestions, as an idiot, are simple and cost effective.

Firstly, the ponds need movement to distinguish them from concrete puddles.  The simple solution is a wave machine and/or bubbles and/or maelstroms emanating from all over the ponds.  Dynamic movement!  This is low tech and in use all over the world.  Simple, easy, cheap and quick.

Secondly, standing within those now dynamic water features and against the drab grey walls we need fantastic ‘works’ which mean something.  How about the ‘Gladdies’ which represent Melbourne and which were present when Hamer Hall was reopened?   How about ‘Othelia’ by Deborah Halpern adorning the other water feature.  Wow!!  Dynamic, meaningful and using the drab building as a backdrop for something special.  Proper lighting would be crucial from underwater maelstroms to narrow spots on key features.  Not hard either.

This is just the start and would say something to the world about NGV.

Cost?  Bugger all!

Excitement?  Max!

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