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Digital Art - People, Architecture, Urban and Cultural Context or What Do You Do at the Beach When it Rains?

Part 2 Project 2011
Rick Hill
University of Queensland Brisbane Australia
Centred between the Nerang River and the Pacific Ocean, the site is blessed with two beaches providing excellent, open, natural amenity while the public realm between contains limited, poorly located and poorly proportioned gathering or green space. A master plan was proposed with a large urban room and garden on a linking spine between the two beaches. The intent was to create an “other” experience of the Gold Coast, not directly related to the beach but one of contrasts with cool, dark relief, dense vegetation and filtered sunlight. A cave and a garden that make a public “back yard” for play, exploration and entertainment. The program provides a centre for digital art, a new campus for the Australian Centre for the Moving Image and much needed additional exhibition and storage space for the existing Gold Coast Gallery.

Forming a southern edge to the square, the gallery directs pedestrians along the beach-linking spine and frames views to the beach, river, garden and limited elevated views to the hinterland beyond. These relationships are captured in isolated moments of the users journey. Formally the gallery sits as a pure crystalline box with the contrasting element of the cave skin having carved out an interior space. The large projecting and undulating awning, an extension of the cave lining, mediates between gallery (cave) and square (garden) creating a human scale experience within the larger adjacent volumes. The garden contains versions of the great hall cave in miniature providing opportunities for respite and reflection on the sculptural work housed there.

Material and experiential links are expressed throughout. Water, of the ocean and the great hall’s reflecting pool, heightened by the direct visual connection between the two. Timber, as shingle lines the interior of the cave referencing the history, ecology and landscape of the gold coast and its hinterland. Memories of local topography are evoked through a metaphorical translation of regional landscape as patrons journey from the reflecting pool or sunken sculpture garden, climbing to the cinemas and gallery spaces beyond. Here, framed views are occasionally opened to the broader context furthering the user’s understanding of place.

Rick Hill

Ms Elizabeth Musgrave
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