Adding a cultural upgrade to the prestigious Monash Universities Caulfield Campus is the 2010 Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA). Designed to showcase the talents of the students at the university MUMAS has set a benchmark for educational state of the art design.
The Kerstin Thompson Architecture design was green lit in 2010 as apart of a campus repair and update. The project was constructed with the philanthropic support of benefactors such as the Ian Potter Foundation, The Sydney Myer Fund, The Helen Macpherson Smith Trust, Marc Beson AO and Eva Beson AO and many more.
The design brief incorporated clear sections over which the project would encompass. There was to be a new museum space created, distinctive focus artwork piece by artist Callum Morton, with further spaces described by both designers and the university as the canopy, ‘spine’, light well and Helen McPherson educational space.
In the creation of the gallery, designers emphasised the relation between art and architecture, taking inspiration for the structure of the building from the internal spine that runs through the structure, as well as its natural curve.
The project plan also had to take into consideration the placement of the original building. It is positioned between different buildings and faculties, and surrounded by garden areas. In taking this into consideration, an approach that emphasised flow and connectivity was taken, described as a ‘cultural exchange’ or a continuum from internal to external.
This sense of liquidity is felt throughout the building. Architecturally, existing radial columns were used as a template, and were replicated inside the building to create parallel lines throughout the building.
The “expressive internal spine” was not only used as a walkway, but as a facilitator for the internal flow of the structure. The curving walkways that displays show pieces ends with a wall of glass that gives the illusion of continuity, with long vistas connecting to the outside.
One of the issues that designers resolved was that while continuity and flow creates an ascetically pleasing space, it does not allow for a lot of boxed corner areas. Facilitators found that with the long curving lines of the building that corner space was sparse, which the design team soon overcame by creating internal walls, in turn creating very neutral duel galleries.
Illuminating exterior façade of the building is the Callum Walker silver screen, which is statement making in its simplicity. The lighting design of the piece also offers the building a feeling of translucence, which translates to its use as a highly functional evening space.
Fiona Harrison and Simon Ellis developed that landscape of the surrounds. This incorporates a campus forest that sits under a stylised tree top walk and a simple ground landscape design that is described as an ‘urban forest’.
Through its breathtaking design aspects, MUMA’s has created a launching zone for young artists and architects to be inspired to create and share. In terms of industry growth, the building is a promotion of the possibilities that comes with architecture, especially one that is so connected to the culmination of art and architecture design.
Photo: By Greg Ford