Urban garden installation 'Pond[er]' opens at The National Gallery of Victoria, Australia

In Melbourne, a pink pond and an immersive garden constitute the architecture commission Pond[er] that draws people to reflect on their relationship with the environment.

by Zohra KhanPublished on : Dec 08, 2021

An ethereal pink pond has popped up at the Grollo Equiset Garden outside of The National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, attracting people to indulge in moments of pause and reflection. The architecture and landscape work dubbed Pond[er] is a contemplative installation featuring a dreamy cotton candy-like water body surrounded by an eclectic garden which constitutes beds of wildflowers. Designed by local architectural practice Taylor Knights and artist James Carey, the work is the winning entry of NGV's 2021 Architecture Commission – an annual national competition that seeks to activate the garden of the first purpose-built gallery in Australia since World War II.

  • The temporary installation Pond[er] is designed by Melbourne-based studio Taylor Knights and artist James Carey | Pond[er] | Australia | STIRworld
    The temporary installation Pond[er] is designed by Melbourne-based studio Taylor Knights and artist James Carey Image: Derek Swalwell
  • Pond[er] overlooks the 1968-constructed National Gallery of Victoria in the backdrop| Pond[er] | Australia | STIRworld
    Pond[er] with the 1968-constructed National Gallery of Victoria in the backdrop Image: Derek Swalwell

Designed to put a spotlight on the beauty, precariousness, and temporality of our natural ecology, the installation as per its design team, "offers a space for visitors to cool off during the summer months and reflect on their relationship with the environment".

Pond[er] is designed within the Grollo Equiset Garden – one of Melbourne’s popular cultural spaces | Pond[er] | Australia | STIRworld
Pond[er] is designed within the Grollo Equiset Garden – one of Melbourne’s popular cultural spaces Image: Derek Swalwell

A shallow water body linked to a series of interconnected walkways overlook the palazzo-like, Roy Grounds-designed 1968 gallery. Cues from Grounds' original design of the NGV that constituted open-air courtyards have been translated into the rectilinear typology of the pond that encourages interaction both within and around the water feature. Pond[er] is conceptualised with two key design elements: a body of indigenous plants that bloom at different times through the installation’s tenure, and a pink pond evocative of the naturally occurring inland salt lakes of Australia. The project’s design team worked in close collaboration with Ben Scott Garden Design to help conjure the landscape into an urban garden oasis.

  • Spaces of play, rest, and reflection at Pond[er] – a visualisation | Pond[er] | Australia | STIRworld
    Spaces of play and rest at Pond[er] – a visualisation Image: Courtesy of Taylor Knights and James Carey
  • Entrance to Pond[er] – a visualisation | Pond[er] | Australia | STIRworld
    Entrance to Pond[er] – a visualisation Image: Courtesy of Taylor Knights and James Carey

Designed as a geometrical open-ended space (instead of a separate architectural entity) within the larger garden of the gallery, the idea was to create fluid channels of interaction and introspection. "Visitors can immerse themselves within and explore the spaces of flora and water and can even step down and wade through the pink pond,” shares Pond[er]'s team in an official press release.

  • Children immersed in a moment of play at Pond[er] | Pond[er] | Australia | STIRworld
    Children immersed in a moment of play at Pond[er] Image: Eugene Hyland
  • A child taking a dip in the pink pond | Pond[er] | Australia | STIRworld
    A child taking a dip in the pink pond Image: Derek Swalwell

The work, as per NGV’s Director Tony Ellwood, draws our attention to the challenges facing Australia’s many catchments and river systems, whereas for the project’s supporter - RMIT University’s Deputy Vice Chancellor Tim Marshall – it evokes climate emergency, social inclusion, and care for community. Interestingly, the material palette for the temporary installation has been locally sourced and manufactured and put together with the intent that post disassembly, these can be reused by various landcare, indigenous and community groups.

Peter Knights, Eva Florindo, James Carey and James Taylor | Pond[er] | Australia | STIRworld
Peter Knights, Eva Florindo, James Carey and James Taylor Image: Eugene Hyland

Pond[er] opened to the visitors on December 6, 2021, and is on view at the Grollo Equiset Garden till October 28, 2022. The project was declared the winner out of an inquisitive shortlist of entries which had proposed ideas of interconnectedness, edible landscape design, and vertical city, among others.

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