The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) has announced the architecture practice that will design the Powerhouse Museum’s inaugural architecture commission, the Turbine Hall Commission.

The recipient – the emerging Sydney-based studio, TRIAS – will have its installation ‘Four Periscopes’ unveiled at the 20th Sydney Design Festival in March 2018.

The project will consist of four internal skyscraper-like towers made from sustainable cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels. Suspended above the ground, the towers will be filled with a series of periscopic mirrors.

‘Four Periscopes’ will be the first site-specific design in the new three-year annual commission that offers emerging and established practices the opportunity to design and present innovative projects for the Powerhouse Museum Turbine Hall.

“MAAS takes seriously its commitment to support and profile the Australian design community. This architectural commission is an Australian first, and we are pleased to have worked with a panel of industry leaders in selecting TRIAS for the first of the three commissions,” says Dolla Merillees, MAAS director.

The measurements of ‘Four Periscopes’ relate to statistics on the amount of space people have to live in particular cities around the world. At 2.4 square metres, the footprint of each tower roughly corresponds to the average floorspace a resident has in Mumbai. The heights of the towers, on the other hand, are said to loosely equate to the average space a person occupies within four South-East Asian cities: Beijing (10 square metres), Manila (12 square metres), Ho Chi Minh City (18 square metres) and Osaka (20 square metres).

“One of the primary purposes of architecture is to bring people together – to frame and contain space in a manner that allows human connections to flourish. This installation highlights the importance of communicating within our ‘commons’ by encouraging museum-goers to – quite literally – reflect and connect with one another,” says Jennifer McMaster, director of TRIAS.

The project was selected by a panel of industry experts including Joe Agius (Agius Architects); William Smart (Smart Design Studio); Cameron Bruhn (Architecture AU Media); Dr Joanne Jakovich (UTS); Stephen Todd (Indesign and Financial Review); Sophie Harrington (MAAS); Emily McDaniel (MAAS); Keinton Butler (MAAS); and Peter Denham (MAAS).

Sydney Design Festival will be held between 2 and 11 March 2019. ‘Four Periscopes’ will remain on display in the Turbine Hall until 28 January 2019.