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Interior Design: MUMA – Monash University Museum of Art

August 11, 2011

Kerstin Thompson Architects’ project explores architecture’s relationship with art, balancing calm gallery spaces with moments of architectural expression.

Occupying the ground floor of a 1960s building on Dandenong Road at Monash University Caulfield, MUMA works economically and strategically with the existing building’s radial geometry to achieve its curatorial ideal for flexibility and neutrality.

A linear circulation spine has been introduced to deal with the most difficult aspects of the existing structure. This absorbed the central radial columns and established a series of parallel walls that flank the spine to form rectilinear, column-free galleries. Imagined as an interstitial space, the spine functions as the armature behind the scenes of the gallery – exposing the existing structure and the services required to maintain climatic stability.

The galleries, by contrast more neutral, are of various scales and can accommodate different kinds of works and curatorial itineraries. The provision of numerous corners results from the conjunction between the new and existing geometry. The inclusion of a canopy along the southern edge of MUMA houses the bulk of mechanical services, so maximising internal floor area. It offers a threshold between inside and outside, defines the entry, and creates a generous verandah space for outdoor events including after hours museum openings. Dramatic lighting links this circulation space with that of the interior spine. A contribution to the ongoing debate about the relationship between architecture and art, the design of MUMA balances moments of architectural expression with others of relative silence.

Team Kerstin Thompson, Sophie Herel, Scott Diener, Lynn Chew, Jacqui Alexander, Laurence Dragomir

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