A playful reinvention of the suburban car wash is the concept behind the 2016 NGV Architecture Commission built in the NGV’s Grollo Equiset Garden this spring. Designed by Melbourne-based M@ STUDIO Architects, the ephemeral structure is titled Haven’t you always wanted to run through all that foam at the car lovers?
With dimensions taken directly from an existing car wash in Blackburn, the design transplants an object of everyday use and familiarity into the unfamiliar surroundings of an art gallery. In place of cement and fluorescent lighting, the structure has a lightweight steel body with walls made of layered cricket netting and a translucent polycarbonate roof.
The evocative structure includes live ‘bays’ with lanes of bright pink astro turf complete with rubberised humps and road markings. Topped by a glittering ‘car wash’ sign and illuminated at night, the spaces are used for events, talks, live music performances and more over spring and summer as well as providing a place for Melburnians to gather, play and daydream. The whimsical structure will also include two bays replete with hanging curtains of red plastic, while another will diffuse mist recreating the experience of being at the car wash.
The NGV Architecture Commission is an annual open competition which asks architects to consider innovative ways to activate one of Melbourne’s great civic spaces, the Grollo Equiset Garden. Competitors are encouraged to offer a unique response to the site, explore new propositions about architecture and design, and demonstrate innovation in material use, fabrication, sustainability and recyclability.
Led by the NGV’s Department of Contemporary Design and Architecture, the inaugural Architecture Commission was presented for the first time in 2015 by John Wardle Architects, who designed an exuberant pavilion of steel, timber and hand-formed textile elements.