Aboriginal symbols inspire design concept

12 Feb 2014

M-Rad shares longlisted proposal for Gold Coast Cultural Precinct in Queensland

In March 2013, the Gold Coast City Council (Australia) launched a design competition to conceptualise a new ‘centre of gravity’ for the artistic community and cultural activity for the region. Due to take a strong role in the arts and cultural programming for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, the Gold Coast Cultural Precinct must provide a nurturing base for creative networks within the area. WAN’s Business Information Service posted the competition on 3 March 2013.

The competition was won by ARM Architecture with the teams Nikken Sekkei and CRAB_Vogt_DBl taking shortlisted places. LA-based practice M-Rad was longlisted in the competition and has shared its ambitious proposal with WAN. The following is M-Rad’s description of its competition entry:

Beyond Bundall Road emerges two barreling waves atop the proposed tropical and indigenous plantscape that ripple out from the centre of the Gold Coast Cultural Precinct. The perfect waves stand still. This formal language represents the dominant active water culture of the Gold Coast. Swell becomes an authentic symbol that acts as a global attractor of creative culture and innovation, and will be sure to ripple inspiration throughout the international art and architecture community. Swell exemplifies Australia’s inherent aboriginal roots and a visionary future of innovation. It aims to foster and facilitate collaborative innovation through its connected network of circulation.

Pavilions and pathways that create the Artscape are arranged to entice visitors to explore the site in their own way offering each visitor an authentic experience. Aboriginal Australian symbols are a rooting influence in the idea of the Swell and are evident in the arrangement of the Artscape. Much like the aboriginal symbol of a circular campfire that ensured a sense of storytelling and community, the circular pavilions set the stage for a global community through idea-sharing and collaboration. Three main axes deliver the public to the site with the primary southwest pedestrian entrance providing direct access to the Great Terrace and the Grand Concourse.

Concentric pathways connect the main axis and provide interior access to the pavilions. The tip of the island or Easterly point is left relatively untouched allowing visitors to find solitude along the edge, where water meets land. The third mode of site circulation is a 1.5km Pavilion Loop that meanders through the site, weaving the diverse elements of the Precinct together. At points of pedestrian and vehicular intersection, the path peels off of the ground and thickens at vista vantage points where increased visitor density will occur.

This will insure ample space along the trail while still offering points of break and reflection. As the visitor moves through the Grand Concourse, they approach the shaded outdoor amphitheatre where they view an ‘on-water’ performance or an outdoor screening. The stage makes full use of the proximity to the water’s edge and the extensive canal system in the area. Approaching by water, visitors may dock or set anchor to view a performance or screening from the comfort of their own boat. Large scale screenings will be reverse-projected from within the sculptural barrel onto the outer curl of the Living Arts Centre and the New Arts Museum, providing the highest quality image for screenings and digital art.

During the day, the upper sculptural portion of the barrels almost disappear as the sun passes through the perforated skin reiterating the plural nature of this provocative cultural hub. The Great Terrace is a central gathering hub that links the Living Arts Centre and the New Arts Museum in a covered plaza. From the Great Terrace, visitors are visually drawn to the water’s edge by way of splices through the buildings. The museum and theatre lobby boast multiple adjacent entry points that may be rotated offering a unique opportunity for an expanded lobby space that blurs interior and exterior environments, while offering natural ventilation. Innovation and cultural definition is built over time and through layers of ideas and exploration. 

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