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NGV 2021 Architecture Commission will be a place to ponder

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 2021 Architecture Commission.

NGV 2021 Architecture Commission will be a place to ponder

Courtesy Taylor Knights and James Carey

Envisioned as a space that becomes part of the NGV garden rather than a separate architectural object, the winning design for the NGV 2021 Architecture Commission, by Melbourne-based architecture practice Taylor Knights in collaboration with artist James Carey and landscape designer Ben Scott Garden Design is aptly entitled pond[er].

An elemental composition featuring a body of indigenous plants and a body of water, the architecture and landscape installation 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.

Courtesy Taylor Knights and James Carey

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, including the Willam Warrain Aboriginal Association.

The pond’s pink hue is a direct reference to the many inland salt lakes in Victoria and highlighting the scarcity, importance and political implications of water as a natural resource. The installation also includes beds of Victorian wildflowers, designed in association with Ben Scott Garden Design, that bloom at different times throughout the installation seeks to highlight the beauty, precariousness and temporality of our natural ecology.

Courtesy Taylor Knights and James Carey

“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,” says Tony Elwood AM, director of NGV.

Pond[er] was selected the winner from a strong shortlist consisting of Aileen Sage Architects with Michaela Gleave, Listening to the Earth, which explored interconnectedness between people at a time of restricted human interaction; Common + Enlocus, At the Table, an installation offering a sensorial, productive, and edible garden; MDF / Manus Leung + Duncan Chang + Fu Yun, Ring Ring Swing, a playful and evocative installation that embraced the social and communal potential of the swing to foster human connection; and Simulaa with Finding Infinity, Gas Stack, an ecologically minded and engaging installation that evokes both a biotech lab and the vertical city.

Render of Common + Enlocus’ design At the Table 2021. Image courtesy of Common + Enlocus

“Consistent with previous winners, pond[er] demonstrates the alignment of values of the NGV and RMIT University that continue to underpin our partnership,” says Tim Marshall, RMIT vice president. “Climate emergency, social inclusion and care for Country emerge through this thoughtful project.”

The 2021 NGV Architecture Commission will be on display from 29 October 2021 – August 2022 at NGV International, St Kilda Road, Melbourne. Free entry. Further information is available via the NGV website: NGV.MELBOURNE.

Render of MDF / Manus Leung + Duncan Chang + Fu Yun’s design Ring Ring Swing 2021. Image courtesy of MDF / Manus Leung + Duncan Chang + Fu Yun


Render of Simulaa with Finding Infinity’s design Gas Stack 2021. Image courtesy of Simulaa with Finding Infinity


Render of Aileen Sage Arcitects with Michaela Gleave’s design Listening to the Earth 2021. Image courtesy of Aileen Sage Arcitects with Michaela Gleave

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