The design of Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA) provided an opportunity for campus revitalisation and repair. Occupying the ground floor of a 1960’s modernist building at Monash University’s Caulfield Campus, MUMA and its sculpture forecourt (previously a carpark) presents opportunities for exchange between the typically internal program of the museum and the daily life of the campus and broader community. A variety of elements bring the inside out so that - in combination with the Ian Potter Sculpture Court - art infiltrates and activates the surrounding landscape to enhance the campus grounds and provide it with a cultural and social focus.
From Dandenong Road MUMA is heralded by Silverscreen, a specially commissioned art installation by Callum Morton, which marks the entry into the Art and Design precinct. Exploiting the pivotal location of the museum within the precinct, the project bridges between the Art and Design and Fine Arts departments. It stitches together disparate campus buildings transforming what was previously the back of the university into a focal point. The introduction of a canopy along the southern edge of MUMA reinforces a key pedestrian link between these departments. It houses the bulk of mechanical services essential to achieving climatic control within the galleries.
The decision to externalize services in the canopy maximizes internal floor area while providing a threshold between inside and outside; defining the entry, and creating a generous verandah space for outdoor gatherings and events including after hours museum openings. The linearity of the canopy amplifies the gentle curve of the existing building, which is further dramatised with the introduction of a new inky black glass façade to reflect and refract the landscaped surrounds. The façade also incorporates seating elements, which extend the entry foyer to outside and several picture windows that provide passers-by with direct views into the museum. From within they offer visual relief out to the sculpture court as well as natural light to the southern galleries.
The sculpture court is designed to be enjoyed from multiple vantage points. From the upper concourse level of the campus one is most able to apprehend the relationship between the museum interior and the landscape and how this is reinforced through a shared geometry. The radial geometry of the existing building is extended out into the center of the campus and coupled with a new geometry of parallel lines running east west. In combination these order the galleries, the internal and external circulation, and the concrete plates which define a series of major and minor gathering and outdoor exhibition areas. An additional layer of timber plinths, platforms and seats, materially reminiscent of the interior circulation spine, create more intimate spaces for an array of uses - sitting or lying around, gathering or retreating, tutorials, performances. In time the gums will mature and below their canopy will be found a calm retreat distinct from other open spaces within the campus.
The project demonstrates how an integrated vision for art, architecture and landscape can enhance the public realm and make the experience of art more accessible and incidental.
Material Used :
1. Landscape Joinery: Kiln Dried Hardwood, Seasoned Blackbutt
2. Flooring: In-Situ Concrete with Exposed Aggregate Finish, ABILOX ‘Moonlight Grey’
3. Landscape: Rock Ground Cover, Lysterfield Granite