2021 NGV Architecture Commission

pond[er] | Taylor Knights with James Carey

Free entry

NGV International

Ground Level, Grollo Equiset Garden

5 Dec 21 – 28 Aug 22

Open 10am–5pm daily

A beautiful architectural installation, replete with a pink pond evocative of Australia’s inland salt lakes, has been selected as the winner of the NGV’s 2021 Architecture Commission in the Grollo Equiset Garden at NGV International.

Designed by a Melbourne-based team comprising architecture firm Taylor Knights in collaboration with artist James Carey, the installation, entitled pond[er], offers a space for visitors to cool off during the summer months and reflect on their relationship with the environment.

Referencing Sir Roy Grounds’s open-air courtyards in the original design of NGV International, this architecture and landscape installation comprises two key design elements: a body of native plants and a body of water. The body of water is coloured pink, making direct reference to the many inland salt lakes in Victoria and highlighting the scarcity, importance and political implications of water as a natural resource. The installation also includes beds of Victorian wildflowers, designed in association with Ben Scott Garden Design, that bloom at different times throughout the installation seeks to highlight the beauty, precariousness and temporality of our natural ecology.

Envisioned as a space that becomes part the NGV garden rather than a separate architectural object, pond[er] invites audiences to move through a series of interconnected walkways and accessible platforms. Visitors can immerse themselves within and explore the spaces of flora and water and can even step down and wade through the pink pond.

pond[er] was selected the winner from a strong shortlist consisting of Aileen Sage Architects with Michaela Gleave, Listening to the Earth, which explored interconnectedness between people at a time of restricted human interaction; Common + Enlocus, At the Table, an installation offering a sensorial, productive, and edible garden; MDF / Manus Leung + Duncan Chang + Fu Yun, Ring Ring Swing, a playful and evocative installation that embraced the social and communal potential of the swing to foster human connection; and Simulaa with Finding Infinity, Gas Stack, an ecologically minded and engaging installation that evokes both a biotech lab and the vertical city.

Each year, the annual commission is selected via a two-stage national competition, in which architects or multi-disciplinary teams are invited to submit a design for an engaging temporary structure or installation to activate the NGV’s Grollo Equiset Garden, one of Melbourne’s great civic and cultural spaces.

The NGV Architecture Commission has previously been designed by Yhonnie Scarce and Edition Office (2019), MUIR + OPENWORK (2018), Retallack Thompson and Other Architects (2017), [email protected] STUDIO Architects (2016), John Wardle Architects (2015).


    • Following the founding of the Department of Contemporary Design and Architecture at the NGV in 2015 the Gallery developed the NGV Architecture Commission series to offer a unique opportunity for Australian architects and designers to propose a compelling design idea for presentation within one of Australia’s great civic and cultural spaces – the Grollo Equiset Garden at NGV International.

Seeking to exhibit leading architectural ideas in the context of the NGV, the series was instigated in 2015 with John Wardle Architects’ I Dips Me Lid, a playful steel, timber and textile structure which provided a theatrical centrepiece offering shade, retreat and a place for performance and workshops.

In 2017 [email protected] Studio’s hyperreal suburban carwash Haven’t you always wanted…? won the Melbourne Prize in the Victorian Architecture Awards. In 2018 Retallack Thompson and Other Architects’ Garden Wall, a maze-like series of open-air passageways, corridors and rooms was awarded a commendation in the Victorian Architecture Awards Small Projects category. In 2019 Muir + Openwork’s Doubleground was awarded the Australian Institute of Architects national award for small project architecture and the Victorian chapter’s Kevin Borland award for small project architecture. In 2020 Yhonnie Scarce and Edition Office’s In Absence won the Victorian chapter’s Kevin Borland award for small project architecture and the global award for small building of the year at the 2020 Dezeen Awards.


Macquarie RMIT University

The 2021 NGV Architecture Commission is supported by The Hugh D. T. Williamson Foundation.

The NGV Architecture Commission Design Competition process is developed and delivered by CityLab.