Searching for Gold


Searching for Gold - Illusion of Gold refers to the migration movement of the mid-19th century to the State of Victoria; a mineral that builds the foundation of our city. In more recent times, the search for Gold becomes a dream for a better future bringing migrant and diversity in cultures to Melbourne. For some, the search for gold is a matter of survival. For others, it’s an economic desire. The city we live in embraces this global movement. 


The pavilion provides two spaces with contrasting experience for audiences of NGV; each layered with a multitude of cultural and social references that can be perceived at multiple levels of engagement. It uses simple architecture language of solid and void to articulate atmosphere and frames the various pieces of sculpture in the garden into a cohesive experience. We want the audience to encounter a solid mass through the depth and thickness of the wall as well as to experience the illusion of Gold.


The project conceptualised the search for Gold in two intersecting volumes. The first is a 7m x 7m x 5m tall volume with a black colour spherical inner chamber that embraced the Henry Moore’s Draped seated woman. This volume has two apertures. One, on the roof acting as an oculus. It focuses the intense summer sun across the chamber tracing time. The second aperture provides a view from the Garden restaurant to the sculpture engulf by a context of darkness. The second volume is a 5m x 5m x 10m tall with a tapered vertical chamber. The interior is white with an array of apertures that diminish in size to construct a false perspective. Each aperture has its sill face painted in gold, reflecting the daylight with a gold hue into the interior. When lit by the sun during the day, the gold colour saturates the interior. One aperture visually frames the Standing Figure by de Kooning. This chamber is tapered to enhance the illusion that the interior of the volume is taller than it seems from the outside; as if one has stepped into Alice’s Wonderland.


The exterior of the pavilion is coloured black, referencing the rock ore. It provides a muted background for the various sculptures in the Garden. From the Great Hall entrance, the visitors encounter the mysterious black pavilion with a hint of glow composed next to Opie’s Galloping Horse. The exterior of the pavilion is scallop to provide subtle texture to the pavilion; it also encourages the children to play and hide between the fluted surface. The pavilion provides a space to contemplate times and movement. One can sit in the Henry Moore’s Chamber to watch the sun track its way across the sculpture. In the vertical chamber, we invite users to lay on the floor and watch the gold reflection changes saturation and intensity during the day. In the height of the summer, it provides a welcoming shade, a quiet place to cool down bath in gold. Three timber decking areas tie the composition of the landscape together making space in front of the Balzac by Robin and the climbing structure.


While we want the audience to perceive the illusion of mass, the pavilion is constructed from lightweight expanded polystyrene (EPS) block coated with UV and impact resistant coating to form a hard shell. The pavilion is broken down into chunks or blocks which can be milled and hot wire cut using a 7-axis robotic arm.