Image – 'In Absence'. Courtesy of Yhonnie Scarce and Edition Office

And The Winner Of The 2019 NGV Architecture Commission Is...

Architects Edition Office and artist Yhonnie Scarce tell a history of Indigenous Australians prior to European arrival in their winning design, In Absence. 

Sally Tabart
2nd of April 2019

The annual NGV Architecture Commission competition invites architects Australia-wide to submit ideas for temporary structures to take over the NGV’s Grollo Equiset Garden, with a focus on collaboration and engaging the community, both physically and conceptually.

This year’s winner recognises a collaborative idea with a strong narrative-driven purpose. Melbourne-based Edition Office has teamed up with contemporary artist Yhonnie Scarce to highlight the histories of Indigenous construction, design, industry, and agriculture before European settlement. Belonging to the Kokatha and Nukunu peoples of South Australia, Yhonnie is best known for her hand-blown glass work that explores the ongoing impact and effect of colonisation on Indigenous Australians.

In this collaborative work, Edition Office has designed a timber tower concealing two dramatic internal voids, adorned with thousands of black glass Yams by Yhonnie. ‘This pavilion does not recognise the term “Terra Nulius” – instead, it celebrates the structures that were built long before the colonisation of Australia’, Yhonnie explains, ‘There were many Aboriginal builders of “houses”, aquaculture infrastructure, and long-term agriculture that has existed for thousands of years.’

Now in its fifth year, the 2019 competition received a record number of 100 submissions, and it’s the first time the winning design has highlighted Indigenous Australian history. We’re looking forward to seeing this piece brought to life, and the opportunity to understand more about the lives and communities of the original custodians of the land prior to European settlement.

The NGV Architecture Commission 2019 will be on display at NGV International from November 2019. Entry is FREE. 

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