Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Len Lye Centre in New Plymouth, Taranaki, New Zealand by Patterson Architects Associates
August 5th, 2015 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Patterson Architects Associates
The new Len Lye Centre in New Plymouth, Taranaki, New Zealand, designed by
The building was commissioned by the New Plymouth District Council and financed via an extensive government-led fundraising program. It is New Zealand’s only museum dedicated to a single artist, the pioneering filmmaker and kinetic sculptor Len Lye (1901-1980). The building’s design articulates Len Lye’s philosophy on the relationship between art and architecture.
The space is reverential, creating a sensory experience from light as a ‘temple’ for art. To celebrate the Taranaki region’s innovative steel industry, the ‘temple’ is wrapped in a curved façade of highly reflective stainless steel – its architects refer to this as “Taranaki’s ‘local stone’”. The exterior creates different reflections during each day and season, and a plaza around the building to showcase these light reflections is due to be installed early next year.
“Lye was fascinated with temples and our design uses principles from the classical world, as well as Polynesian forms and ideas,” says the Design Director of Patterson Associates, Andrew Patterson. “These influenced Lye and he was after all, the client.” Patterson Associates developed the design in a holistic or adaptive way, using what Patterson calls a ‘systems methodology’. Rather than following classical proportion and aesthetics, they used patterns in the ecology of the project’s environments to drive design elements. Patterson says creating a new home for the Len Lye Collection was an honour.
“We were thrilled to be offered this commission, Len Lye is an inspirational figure who bridged a multitude of creative disciplines. This building is about amplifying his work by physically representing the partnership that he identified between art and architecture.” Simon Rees, Director of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, says: “Pattersons was chosen by the selection jury for an architect’s vision that best matched itself to the inventiveness, whimsy, and materials of Len Lye’s work, and particularly embraced the importance of light to Len as an artist who was both filmmaker and sculptor of highly finished metals.
The building provides a fitting setting for Len Lye’s work because of its materials, design, apportionment of spaces and its new cinema. It will do Len proud,” he says. Pattersons was passionate about creating a Maori ‘wharenui,’ or meeting house to articulate the museum’s programme.
“Historically the carved nature of the wharenui presents a platform in which oral narratives can be presented,” says Patterson. The new Len Lye Centre, with its sculptural steel exterior and subtle kinetic interior light shifts, embodies and personifies Len Lye and his body of work. The building’s form, and the work it houses, narrates to the visitor his philosophies, his ‘mana’ and his expression. Patterson Associates approaches people, architecture and the environment as interlinking identities underpinned by the assumption that if a building logically belongs in its ecology, environmental, cultural, and social, then people will also feel a sense of belonging.
About Patterson Associates
Patterson Associates began with Andrew Patterson in 1986, whose early work on New Zealand’s unspoiled coasts earned him international recognition. Andrew has become New Zealand’s most internationally recognised architect, producing some of our most iconic buildings including the Christchurch Botanic Garden Centre, the Geyser Building in Auckland and the Michael Hill Golf Clubhouse in Queenstown. During his
He is a vivid architectural storyteller with a passion for Maori history and mythology, and is a great advocate for architecture that responds to history, the landscape and has a sense of place. In 2004 Davor Popadich and Andrew Mitchell joined the firm as directors, taking Pattersons to another level of creative exploration and international reputation. Pattersons now has clients and projects as far afield as India, Singapore, Australia, Germany and China.
About Len Lye
A visionary and inspirational New Zealander, Len Lye (1901-1980) is one of the most important and influential artists to emerge from New Zealand. Lye’s interests lay in the possibilities of light and movement. He possessed a creative energy that he brought to his sculptures, filmmaking, painting and writing, that saw him establish himself as a key innovator in contemporary art in the 21st century.
Legendary among experimental filmmakers worldwide, his pioneering ‘direct films’, made by painting and scratching on celluloid, were part of Lye’s prescient vision for a ‘new art movement’ in the 1920s. By the 1940s, he was creating dynamic and innovative kinetic sculptures in New York. Today, his hand-made films and sculptures continue to receive expanding interest and acclaim.
His work has been featured globally including at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Whitney Museum of American Art New York, the Berkley Art Museum California, the Art Gallery of New South Wales Sydney and the British Film Institute London.
About the Govett-Brewster Gallery
In December 1962, Monica Brewster (née Govett) envisaged and established a museum of international standing in the coastal community of New Plymouth on New Zealand’s west coast. In 1977, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery presented the first survey of Len Lye’s work held anywhere in the world, Kinetic Works. Just months before his death in 1980, Lye established the Len Lye Foundation to continue his artistic vision and, recognising the strength of the relationship between artist and museum, he chose the Govett-Brewster to
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