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National Portrait Gallery, Canberra

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Photos and description of this new art gallery.

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National Portrait Gallery, Canberra

  1. 1. Canberra, Australia www.portrait.gov.au National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, Australia
  2. 2. <ul><li>The National Portrait Gallery moved into its new building by the lake in Canberra in December 2008. </li></ul><ul><li>I visited in January 2009 and here are my first thoughts. </li></ul><ul><li>Gillian Savage, Environmetrics </li></ul><ul><li>www.environmetrics.com.au </li></ul>
  3. 3. We approached from the National Gallery. Here is the pale, low building of the National Portrait Gallery (NGA).
  4. 4. The approach has a classic, monumental character. It needs softening – perhaps the plantings will help when they are bigger.
  5. 5. We enjoy this green vista as we walk along the wide paving towards the entrance. The building is set in acres of green space in the formal setting of the Parliamentary Triangle. The closest buildings are the High Court and the National Gallery.
  6. 6. Getting closer. Even on this hot day, there are plenty of people about. This is probably because the Degas exhibition at the NGA has attracted visitors to the area.
  7. 7. The NPG café terrace overlooks the green vista. That looks like a nice place to hang out.
  8. 8. Now the entrance appears, and there’s an “Ah, Ha” moment as the space opens before us. I really like the long sight lines through the building. Very inviting. The natural timber in the ceiling panels adds warmth.
  9. 9. The solid timber doors are surprising in a contemporary stone and glass building. Two sets of doors create an airlock without constraining visitors. We can flow through the doors quite freely.
  10. 10. The foyer is another “Ah-ha”. It is simply beautiful. Lots of natural light, pale marble, interesting lighting, and a security man who is more like a concierge. Welcome to the 21 st century!
  11. 11. Here is another view of the foyer looking back to the entrance doors. The proportions and detailing are lovely. This space will work well for a variety of uses.
  12. 12. It is such a lovely space, surely they will need more lounges? See the long panel of glass that brings natural light? I wonder what it will cost to heat/cool? The strong horizontal lines bring a sense of calm.
  13. 13. I enjoy the detailing of the roof where the natural timbers bring welcome warmth to this very modern space. They probably help the acoustics too.
  14. 14. The NPG is designed as a set of pavilions separated by glassed ‘corridors’ that allow natural light and outside views. It is a light and airy building with good proportions. Situated close to the National Gallery, I am sure it will invite visitor movement through the formal lakeside space.
  15. 15. Humans thrive in savanna places <ul><li>Buildings are habitats for humans and humans evolved in particular settings. It follows that humans are designed to function better in buildings that conform with key characteristics of the environments they evolved in. </li></ul>Mountain :: Desert :: Cave :: Forest :: Coast <ul><li>Our evolutionary heritage is a foundation for health, performance and well-being. </li></ul><ul><li>The evolutionary habitat of humans is the savanna. While humans can SURVIVE in many environments, they THRIVE in savanna-like places. </li></ul>
  16. 16. 8 features of savanna places <ul><li>1. Visual access and enclosure </li></ul><ul><li>NPG has a mix of open spaces and more enclosed areas. </li></ul><ul><li>2. Horizontal lines </li></ul><ul><li>The external building has strong horizontal lines. </li></ul><ul><li>Inside, the foyer and ‘light corridors’ also have strong horizontal lines. </li></ul>
  17. 17. NPG – a savanna place <ul><li>3. Long sight lines </li></ul><ul><li>Glass doors and panels provide long sight lines. </li></ul><ul><li>4. Tree like forms </li></ul><ul><li>Overhead canopy gives sense of protection. </li></ul><ul><li>The foyer light feature creates a canopy over seating. </li></ul>
  18. 18. NPG – a savanna place <ul><li>5. Multiple retreats </li></ul><ul><li>The separate pavilions provide a variety of spaces of different sizes. </li></ul><ul><li>The café and shop are visible and provide retreats from the open space of the foyer. It is clear that there are several places to go/explore. </li></ul><ul><li>6. Daylight </li></ul><ul><li>Glass panels in the foyer and galleries give abundant natural light. </li></ul>
  19. 19. NPG – a savanna place <ul><li>7. Moderate pattern complexity </li></ul><ul><li>The detailing of floors, walls and doors provides interest without overwhelming with busy-ness. </li></ul><ul><li>8. Movement </li></ul><ul><li>Light and shadow from sky effects and the movements of people provide changing interest. </li></ul>
  20. 20. NPG – a savanna place <ul><li>9. Quiet activity </li></ul><ul><li>Good acoustic design of the foyer ceiling minimises unwanted noise in this large space. </li></ul>
  21. 21. NPG – a savanna success <ul><li>The new National Portrait Gallery has many of the design elements that follow the principles of evolutionary biology to create spaces where people can thrive. </li></ul>

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