Until Friday 1 April 2022 | Dulux Gallery, Ground Floor, Glyn Davis Building, University of Melbourne, Parkville.

“Who cares about public architecture? Does the public? Who are ‘the public’

The global pandemic has clearly brought this issue into sharp focus. Over the last two years Melburnians have witnessed the opening night of the ballet on Margaret Court tennis arena, drive-in movies inside the exhibition hall at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and the world heritage listed Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton, the seat of Australia’s first National Parliament, become a major medical hub for vaccine and COVID-19 testing.”
— Hamish Lyon, Director, NH Architecture

Now showing at the Dulux Gallery, Melbourne School of Design, the exhibition hopes to reveal the uncertain nature of public buildings in a contemporary practice setting where public projects are increasingly challenging, complex and time consuming to procure. Drawing from a catalogue of projects spanning nearly 20 years of practice, the exhibition features our public buildings, commercial buildings and everything in between.

‘There is no/only public architecture’ investigates the intersecting themes of manufacture, operation, access, and engagement. It considers the constantly shifting nature and understanding of ‘public’ or ‘not public’, recognising that this is an evolving space. We encourage visitors to consider the less tangible, enduring qualities of public architecture, such as materiality and memory.

The public buildings exhibited are situated in a context where public architecture has been decoupled from the public purse, and where media and technology have undeniably warped the conventions of publicness.

Using familiar techniques such as photography, model and film, we have disassembled and fragmented the exhibited buildings to elicit, on the one hand notions of scale, mass production and occupation, while on the other a rich material display that evokes the ephemeral and haptic qualities of the buildings. Our exhibition is an invitation for students, the public and practitioners alike to understand the current situation, and to speculate on the future of public architecture

“The exhibition provokes a discussion around the very nature of public buildings and public architecture. It suggests that we might consider whether there’s no public architecture or whether there is only public architecture.”
— Jill Garner AM, Victorian Government Architect

‘There is no/only public architecture’ is a Melbourne School of Design Alumni Survey Series exhibition by NH Architecture. This event is part of Melbourne Design Week 2022, an initiative of the Victorian Government in collaboration with the NGV.

NH Architecture Director Hamish Lyon will give a keynote lecture on Tuesday the 15th of March at 7pm, and a public floor talk in the gallery on Saturday the 26th of March at 2pm. Gallery opening hours and accessibility information are available through the Melbourne School of Design website.

Photo credits: Exhibition banner by Peter Bennetts, opening night by James Rafferty

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