Deconstructing the Children’s Art Pavilion

Chris Tucker


This paper discusses the design, construction and eventual deconstruction of the Children’s Art Pavilion at the Newcastle Region Art Gallery in Australia. As a space for children to experiment with art, the Pavilion metaphorically engaged the verandah as a space that has historically (albeit minimally) mediated the zone where inside and outside meet. Its process of deconstruction referenced the work of Gordon Matta-Clark, and was testament to how the architectural design process continues through this phase, albeit uninhibited by the need to create a functioning object. In the time leading up to its deconstruction, the Pavilion became perfectly functionless, while its form and architectural content remained critically intact. Cutting into its surface, as a continuation of the design process, framed the void. Security was replaced with instability, not just physically but emotionally. At this point, the ground became cliff, or broke against the surf, and indeterminacy destroyed the purpose of even the most elementary architectural space. The new construction immediately suggested the possibilities of another architecture. As an intriguing social and architectural experiment, undergone by a building that could have quietly been loaded into a bin within a few hours, this project illuminated the social responsibility invested within architecture.

Keywords: pavilion, children, verandah, demolition, deconstruction, residual, architecture.

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Biographical note

Chris Tucker is the program convenor of the Master of Architecture program in the School of Architecture and Built Environment at the University of Newcastle in Australia, and director of the architectural practice herd. Chris has been awarded regional, state and international prizes for architecture, and his buildings and designs have been widely exhibited and published. A number of his projects and essays are collected in a book entitled Residue: Architecture as a Condition of Loss published in 2007 (with Michael Ostwald and Michael Chapman). His designs and models have been exhibited at the Venice Biennale Australian Pavilion in 2008, the State Library of NSW, the Melbourne Museum, and various galleries in Newcastle and Sydney. He is currently completing a PhD titled Mapping residual space within urban streets: a case for adapting existing buildings within Newcastle for housing.