The AGGV’s permanent collection is housed in an historic mansion and series of Modernist additions in an established residential area of Victoria. Our design team was shortlisted for a competition to envision the future renovation and expansion of the gallery. The competition brief asked that the proposal bring a “downtown” presence to the museum’s suburban location and more vibrancy on the street, all without overwhelming the site or removing the existing trees.
The current facility appears impenetrable, its vibrancy hidden behind brick and concrete. Rather than simply renovating the existing additions, our submission offers a brand new structure, re-imagining the gallery as a village of small pavilions engulfed by the inspired landscape cascading through the site. A choreography of gardens and new public spaces weaves the property back into the fabric of the surrounding neighborhood, allowing visitors to engage the gallery at all hours and from all directions. Expansive glass walls expose the interiors of the pavilions, creating an external animation and renewed engagement between the AGGV and its surroundings.
A dedicated upper level gallery floor rises over the site, nested in the dense tree canopy above. Flowing organically around and through the stands of towering oaks and sequoias, its sculptural form encloses a cohesive and flexible sequence of exhibition spaces. Programs on the second floor radiate around a large opening carved from the building mass that allows daylight to flood the main lobby and frames dramatic views of the sky.
Interior spaces are defined by transparent walls, layered behind an innovative system of wood quills that cantilever from an external structural mesh. The skin acts as a natural shading device that protects the artwork while allowing for a diffused light penetration, creating a quality of space inspired by the shade and shadow of the woodland site. Visitors meander through the exhibitions, held above the land as if walking through the tree canopy itself, a gallery experience unlike any other in Canada.