The ‘Tapestry Design Prize for Architects’ is an annual competition run by Australian Tapestry Workshop in partnership with Architecture Media, the Tapestry Foundation of Australia and the National Gallery of Australia.
Tapestry has a long history. Along with being revered as works of art, tapestry can also be used to modify thermal conditions as well as providing acoustic treatment within architectural spaces.
Decibel Architecture created two unique proposals, each of which draws creative inspiration from the rich culture and history of Canberra. Our approach to the design of the tapestry earmarked for Canberra’s NGA, was to speculate on the peculiar scales of the city (Canberra), the building (NGA), and the wall (Level 1) and the way these concepts have been made manifest through lines.
Lines and geometries shift scales to create a field of information that simultaneously describes the city and the space and their related geometries.
The overlaid information is designed to be viewed at differing distances, and distinctly different images become discernible based on the viewer’s physical distance from the tapestry. Up close the fine grain order of the grid and its component parts is understood. Hexagons of differing colours cluster together to form abstract fields of colour.
At the middle distance an image of the Griffin’s concept plan for Canberra emerges, the site of the NGA itself identifiable in the midst of the superimposed network of lines masquerading as a city. Seen from a far, a new image emerges, the deep chiaroscuro of the NGA itself as captured in the iconic image of the NGA under construction in the late 1980’s, a view now transformed by the building’s recent expansion.
A triangular grid employed by both the Griffins and Madigan changes scale across the tapestry to capture an abstracted plan of Canberra, and as an armature for a series of duo-tone samples of components of buildings spread across Canberra. These duo-tone elements are not immediately recognizable, they change scale according to the scale of the underlying grid. The grid is reimagined as abstracted
hammer finish concrete, itself an exercise in pure geometry. A series of pyramids arranged in a grid, designed through repeated impact to transform the product of careful planning and construction (smooth, square, flat surfaces) into a textured surface that defies definition.
It is controlled chaos.