Kengo Kuma collaborates with Australian artist Geoffrey Nees to respond to the philosophical nature of Korean artist Lee Ufan’s painting Dialogue 2017 for the National Gallery of Victoria’s 2020 Triennial. Through the creation of a new architectural installation, a gallery-scale circular pavilion acts as a sensorial walkway through which to approach and contemplate Ufan’s painting.
Made in the Japanese tradition of wooden architecture, where pieces interlock, held by tension and gravity, the Botanical Pavilion 2020 features a sublime tessellated interior lined with reclaimed timber collected over several years at Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens. Some of the trees used within the architecture pre- date European settlement, whilst others signal the development over decades of the Gardens marking their role as a site of scientific research and botanical classification.
Prioritising natural phenomena over scientific order, the botanical species used are colour coded, rather than following any taxonomic order. This approach offers a statement by the designers against the reductive nature of science during the colonial era – a mindset at odds with many Indigenous cultural beliefs and knowledge systems.
Botanical Pavilion offers a site for contemplation, reminding us of our relationships to nature and one another.
Collaborating Firms: McCorkell Brown Group (https://mccorkell.net.au), Manresa Constructions (https://manresa.com.au), OEM Viridi Pty Ltd (https://vuv.com.au), Bowens Timber & Hardware (https://bowens.com.au), Peninsula Wood Machining, The National Gallery of Victoria (https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/); Team: Kengo Kuma – Architect, Geoffrey Nees – Artist, Anteo Sanada – Architect, Yasmine Zahlan – Architect, Howard McCorkell – Builder, Mike McCormick – Fabrication, Tom McKenny – Fabrication, Stefan Lacombe – Fabrication, Troy Prollius – Fabrication.