Recognising the key role design plays in Melbourne, the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) has dedicated one-third of Melbourne Now to design, collaborating with architects and designers to create spaces that will house the many works of art and creative practice.

But NGV partner, award-winning architectural firm Ashton Raggatt McDougall (ARM), has decided to go a step further and invite the public – yes, you – to have a crack at the drawing board.

Setting up shop within the NGV Studio, the practice will consider the potential of and get new ideas for contentious sites in Melbourne, such as Federation Square East, Ford Factories in Broadmeadows and Geelong, and the City of Dandenong and Tullamarine.

The ‘urban research’ installation focuses on one site a month, with the results posted in gallery exhibits.

Already the Federation Square East ideas are in, The Age reports. They include a “temple for weeping”, an “oxygen cafĂ©”, a spaghetti-like tangle of freeway with no exits, and a beach along the Yarra. Most people have also suggested turning the old railway yard site into a park.

“The park idea reflected more specific suggestions of no shopping, no offices, and no apartment buildings. It was a rejection of the private interests that are seen to dominate the city,” says senior architect at ARM, Mark Raggatt.

Hoping in part that this collaborative project would “demystify architecture”, the exhibition is also seen as a way to open up a discussion about the city, as well as the future of Melbourne.

Architectural installation: McBride Charles Ryan, Community Hall, 2013. NGV commission; supported by Higgins Coatings. Image: NGV

This is reflected in the greater Melbourne Now program, which will include:

  • A community hall designed by McBride Charles Ryan, that serves as a meeting room, stage, and platform for a range of cultural expressions;
  • Sampling the City: Architecture Culture in Melbourne, a curated event by Fleur Watson representing the key protagonists and ideas involving over 25 Melbourne architecture practices;
  • An immersive data visualisation created by Greg More, incorporating socio-geographic data that reflects how we live in Melbourne
  • ZOOM – a display of 30,000 postcards designed by Matthew Angel carrying 100 idas for the future of the city, plus a companion interactive survey

Sampling the City curated by Fleur Watson. Exhibition Design by Amy Muir and Stuart Geddes, projection and soundscape by Keith Deverell, exhibition narrative by Michael Spooner, built environment imagery by Peter Bennetts. Image: Peter Bennetts

Melbourne Now explores the idea that a city is significantly shaped by the artists, designers and architects who live and work in its midst. Bringing together over 400 of these people, the exhibition will be held until 23 March 2014 at the Ian Potter Centre NGV Australia and NGV International.

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