Yhonnie Scarce and Edition Office win 2019 NGV Architecture Commission

Contemporary artist Yhonnie Scarce and Melbourne architecture studio Edition Office have been announced as the winners of the 2019 National Gallery of Victoria Architecture Commission for their scheme titled In Absence. The winner was announced as part of a one-night-only exhibition on 21 March, held as part of Melbourne Design Week at RMIT Design Hub, showcasing the 100 entered schemes for the year with short presentations by the five shortlisted teams.

Occurring annually, the NGV Architecture Commission is an open national competition, which invites architects to create a site-specific work of temporary architecture, activating the NGV’s Grollo Equiset Garden. For 2019, architects were encouraged to submit ideas focusing on multidisciplinary thinking, collaboration and audience engagement.

In Absence. Courtesy Yhonnie Scarce and Edition Office

In Absence is an architectural installation that invites audiences to better understand the long histories of Indigenous construction, design, industry and agriculture prior to the arrival of Europeans, including the permanent villages and dwellings of many Indigenous communities.

The dark and enigmatic exterior form of the timber tower conceals a textural and uplifting interior, composed of two dramatic internal voids adorned with thousands of black glass Yams by Scarce.

‘This pavilion does not recognise the term ‘Terra Nulius’ – instead, it celebrates the structures that were built long before the colonisation of Australia,’ says Scarce. ‘There were many Aboriginal builders of ‘houses’, aquaculture infrastructure and long-term agriculture that has existed for thousands of years. This commission is an amazing opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the builders of such infrastructure and their enduring legacies.’

In Absence. Courtesy Yhonnie Scarce and Edition Office

Tony Ellwood AM, Director, NGV said: ‘This thoughtfully crafted space displays a highly developed narrative drawn from a successful collaboration between an Indigenous artist and non-indigenous architects. The project acknowledges Indigenous cultural practice and shared culture. It is a place for cultural exchange, an uplifting place, drawing from a difficult past.’

A record number of 100 submissions were received for this year’s NGV Architecture Commission Competition from across Australia, with many responding to social and cultural narratives relevant to architecture and the built environment.

The winner was selected from five shortlisted design schemes by the jury, comprising of Jill Garner (Chair, Principal of Garner Davis Architects and Victorian Government Architect), Corbett Lyon (co-founder of Lyons Architecture and Visiting Professor at MDS, NGV Trustee), Andrew Clark (Deputy Director, National Gallery of Victoria), Clare Cousins (Principal of Clare Cousins Architects, and national president, AIA) and Timothy Moore (Director, Sibling Architecture).

The NGV Architecture Commission 2019 will be on display at NGV International from November 2019.

ngv.vic.gov.au