The Victorian government has unveiled plans for a new gallery that has been billed as Melbourne’s answer to the Eiffel Tower.
- The winning design for a new contemporary gallery has been unveiled to the public
- The new Southbank site is expected to be completed in 2028
- Response to the new design has been mixed with concerns raised over urban design and impacts on infrastructure
The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) Contemporary will be the gallery’s third site and Australia’s largest gallery.
The winning design was submitted by Angelo Candalepas and Associates.
It has 13,000 square meters of exhibition space and an expansive rooftop terrace with views of Melbourne’s CBD.
“What we would like to do is present to the world through the efforts of this great state, something that engages the imagination…for the benefit of everyone in the world,” Mr. Candalepas said.
Creative Industries Minister Danny Pearson called the design “iconic” and “breathtaking”.
“This is going to be a game-changer for our state,” he said.
“His [going to] put us on the world map as a destination for great creative and cultural events.
“As the Eiffel Tower is in Paris… The National Gallery of Victoria Contemporary will be in Melbourne.”
He said the state expects about one million visitors a year, saying it would “cause incredible levels of visitation.”
NGV manager Tony Ellwood told ABC Radio Melbourne “the infrastructure held us back in this country, because we didn’t have the right heights, we didn’t have the right load bearings – this building addresses everything that.
“We’ve often said we need something that defines our city architecturally – I think this building will do that,” he said.
Council and architecture community split over new design
However, reception of the new gallery’s design has been mixed.
Peter Raisbeck, associate professor of architectural practice at the Melbourne School of Design, said the design was an “older, conservative idea of architecture”.
“It’s not going to challenge the general public’s preconceptions and what they might have about art,” he said.
“We’ve got something concrete and stone with a bit of sun on it, and that’s about it.”
The new gallery is part of a $1.7 billion redevelopment of the Southbank district, the Melbourne Arts Precinct Transformation, which also includes improvements to Arts Center Melbourne, as well as the new Center for Creativity at Arts Center Melbourne.
Dr Raisbeck said his biggest concern with the designs was the wind.
“How will it be windy in this particular environment? And… how nice would it be in this garden?” he said.
Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp hailed the new design, calling it “a monumental Melbourne city-shaping project”.
The board expressed concern at a meeting in February about certain aspects of the design, including “the building envelope, including the height and projections of the new NGVC building at 77 Southbank Boulevard and the visual impacts, amenity, urban design and associated infrastructure”.
Councilor Rohan Leppert, deputy portfolio manager for the town planning portfolio, said the design was ‘certainly spectacular’ but expressed concern about the ‘canyon-y’ interface to the west and whether it would cast an excessive shadow on Southbank Boulevard.
He said he wanted to see the blueprints for the building, not just the artist’s interpretation of the potential site.
Construction is expected to begin within the next 12 months and the building is expected to be completed by 2028.