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PROGETTISTA: Mario Bellini

  • Anno: : 2003
  • Categoria: : UFFICIO / LAVORO / CONTRACT
  • Visto: 1704 VOLTE
DESCRIZIONE: The largest art gallery in the southern hemisphere. A singular building covering 35,000 square metres of exhibition and entertainment space, it took...
The largest art gallery in the southern hemisphere. A singular building covering 35,000 square metres of exhibition and entertainment space, it took 168 million Australian dollars and seven years to come up with the design for the “container” and reinterpret the “content”.The gallery was enlarged and completely redesigned, altering not only the external architecture but also the internal layout and fittings. This gargantuan task began in 1996 after an international competition by invitation only was won by Mario Bellini competing against the best architects in the world such as Arata Isozaki, D.C.M.- Gae Aulenti and Pei Cobb Freed. “After seven long years of studies and projects, discussions and work,” says Mario Bellini, “the winning idea was that of returning this great monument to the citizens of Melbourne absolutely intact in its role as urban symbol, yet, at the same time, radically rethought and transformed in its role as museum exhibition body. Beginning with the entrance, the reception, the facilities available, circulation, the sequence of exhibition themes, the reinvention and doubling of the space and on to the evocative three central courtyards, the overall atmosphere, the signposting, materials, colours, lighting, magical exhibition cases … there is no longer anything to recall the dusty old municipal institution and everything will speak a new language which takes into account the ever-increasing and increasingly sophisticated needs and sensibilities of today’s museum and gallery visitors. ” The project involved 30 exhibition rooms devoted to the permanent collections which display international works of art ranging from Egyptian, Greek and Roman and Asian art to contemporary art, including a comprehensive collection of the decorative arts as well as a significant collection of drawings and etchings.
Three large spaces are devoted to temporary exhibitions. There is also a new foyer and a large Orientation Space, halls for performances and conferences to hold 500 people, a Coffee Shop to hold 250 visitors, a spacious Book Shop, Education Department and Study Areas. An institution planned and laid out to cater to many thousands of visitors a year. The exhibition spaces to display the priceless art collection of the NGV are laid out in a sequence where each section differs in size and colour as do the approximately 380 containers and display cases in the rooms, designed by Bellini according to his own particular aesthetic and museological criteria. A pre-existing building, solemn, timeless – despite the fact that it was built relatively recently (Roy Grounds, 1968) – an imposing landmark on the urban fabric with which the community has built up a relationship of complicity and respect over the years. An icon, therefore, protected by Heritage Victoria restrictions and by the unwritten but equally important ones dictated by local custom and sensibilities. The transformation project respects the exterior of the building with its characteristic rusty bluish-grey bluestone while completely revolutionising the interior. It is a bionic project – using high tech materials and solutions – which shuns mimicry, always clearly distinguishable from what was already there in the original building. The result is a powerful contract which proves dialectically productive as the new is not hidden and in thus revealing itself enters into dialogue with the old, creating a shortcut which is both aesthetically stimulating and historically coherent. The great central courtyard, covered by a spectacular glass roof, becomes a vital and articulated interface with the city, embracing all the relational and informative functions. A system of oblique screens made of the lightest hi-tech material, partially intrudes on the hall. It is a sort of “genie in the lamp” which distributes the visitors to the different floors with a café observatory on the mezzanine floor. The pre-existing waterwall, so dear to the public, had to stay, but was reinvented through the use of a huge pane of glass over which the water now flows: a magical curtain-screen which serves to multiply the light. In the side courtyards, each roughly 800 metres square, the exhibition space is doubled thanks to two great cubes, slightly rotated, measuring 20 x 20 m, and all these spaces are interconnected by a carefully designed series of ramps and walkways which controls traffic and the flow of visitors.The two new buildings, each three-storey high, stretch towards the sky to capture light through ample, soaring deflector cornices, producing surprising effects through the exchange with the outdoor light which is particularly strong in this part of the world. Permanent collections and temporary exhibitions, a theatre, conference halls, a multimedia library, restaurant, bar and bookshop, the entire building can be crossed from the main road (St Kilda Road) to the gallery garden, so that it becomes a powerful, transformational element, a fluid organism, in constant exchange with the city. The new play of forces inside looks onto to the outside, marking the entrance avenue with a sign-sculpture, a powerful double veil made of steel mesh, an invitation to begin the voyage of exploration.

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