The New Vernacular
The pavilion’s four facades are taken from contemporary Australian suburban homes and combined to make a double-height space with the same proportions as the average Australian house (246m2) and vistas to the garden’s sculptures and landscaping. The pavilion’s timber stud framing is left exposed and without internal partitions, revealing a structural honesty and tectonic complexity within a striking double-height volume. A high-tech polypropylene fabric cloaks these structural ‘bones’ in a translucent veil. This breathable, translucent skin offers shade in the summer months and respite from inclement weather, while allowing good flow of movement for visitors and performers alike.
Site interference is minimised through a lightness of material and construction. All structural elements are locally-sourced softwoods – as in the typical suburban house – standardised for manufacturing efficiency. Weatherproof polypropylene cladding diffuses light while remaining breathable and fully recyclable. The collaborative construction process will engage local craftspeople and adjacent disciplines. Trainee carpenters from Melbourne and outer-suburban TAFEs will be invited to participate in the timber-frame construction, showcasing their skills. After the summer season, the structure can be dismantled and fully reused in new residential projects. Not only cost-effective, these strategies also demonstrate our genuine commitment to sustainability across the project’s lifecycle.
This proposal brings the oft-overlooked suburban typology into direct contact with the NGV, the cultural heart of Melbourne. On the flipside, culture is brought to communities on the periphery through satellite pavilions, sited in vacant lots across the peri-urban fringe. These will be digitally connected to the NGV pavilion through networked performances and visitor interaction between locations. When networked with its suburban satellites, the audience will extend well beyond the gallery’s physical boundaries.
The pavilion’s flexible double-storey shell offers programmatic diversity and innovation. Its polypropylene skin becomes a canvas for artistic appropriation by day or night: for visual projections or a glowing lantern in the Garden showcasing performers’ silhouettes. Its satellite pavilions encourage new decentralised modes of art and curatorial practice and may inspire specific works based on the Australian vernacular and suburban condition.
The suburban icon becomes particularly powerful against the backdrop of the NGV’s high-culture environment. Our pavilion is at once a representation and abstraction of suburbia and the quintessential Australian Dream. Its familiar yet arresting form provokes thought on cultural accessibility, housing affordability and the democratisation of cultural infrastructure. Sustainability is communicated to a broad audience through its exposed structure, appealing to city and suburbanite alike.
Welcome to the New Australian Vernacular.