The Colossus of Melbourne
18. March 2022
Daytime render of winning concept design for NGV Contemporary by Angelo Candalepas and Associates, and public green space, facing south. (Visualization: Darcstudio)
A team led by the firm of Australian architect Angelo Candalepas was selected by the Victorian Government and the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in a competition to design the NGV Contemporary.
Australia’s second city, Melbourne, is always eager to compete with the country's best known city, Sydney. There, the new Art Gallery of New South Wales (aka the Sydney Modern) designed by Tokyo's SANAA awaits completion later this year. Down in Melbourne, the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) is building a new museum called NGV Contemporary, which will be Australia’s largest gallery for contemporary art and design. The team led by Angelo Candalepas and Associates from Sydney has won the — purely domestic — architectural design competition for the museum. Another three teams remained in the last round: John Wardle, Architectus, and the Australian branch of Nicholas Grimshaw’s office.
Daytime render of winning concept design for NGV Contemporary by Angelo Candalepas and Associates, entry and public green space viewed from the NGV International. (Visualization: Darcstudio)
Bigger seemingly is better for Melbourne. Candalepas’s design draws visitors inside through arched entries into a 40-meter-high hall. The NGV Contemporary will have more than 13,000 square meters of display space, including a rooftop terrace with vistas of Melbourne’s skyline and views down to a sculpture garden. The foyer is described as an omphalos (the Ancient Greek word for the centre of the earth): the monumental central space soars through all levels of the building towards an oculus at the top. This colossal hall will be a gallery for the display of large-scale artworks. Visitors ascend a spiraling ramp, much like the Guggenheim in New York. En route they will be offered a promenade architecturale between levels, before emerging on the twin-level rooftop that is shaped like a disc.
Daytime render of central spherical hall in winning concept design for NGV Contemporary by Angelo Candalepas and Associates. (Visualization: Secchi Smith)
Candalepas’ design features a café connected to the park, a store, restaurant, and members’ lounge. “Large and flexible exhibition spaces” will have modern display systems. The NGV will present traveling exhibitions while still having enough room to display offerings from its permanent collection. There will be educational studios, a theatre, studios, and laboratories.
Daytime render of rooftop restaurant in winning concept design for NGV Contemporary by Angelo Candalepas and Associates. (Visualization: Secchi Smith)
NGV will connect its triangular site to the neighborhood, providing access through its large arched entries from an expanded public park and from Southbank Boulevard and Kavanagh Street. The eastern facade of the museum along Southbank incorporates a multi-level veranda, offering a path between the levels. So, while Sydney bets on Japanese elegance, Melbourne goes for a bold and colossal new art and design museum that can not be overlooked.