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Project Spotlight: The Len Lye Centre by Pattersons Architects

Sept. 1, 2015

The facility pays homage to a filmmaker and sculptor

Great architecture goes 50/50 with great art,” said filmmaker and kinetic sculptor Len Lye in 1964. The new Len Lye Centre in New Plymoth, Taranaki, New Zealand, stands as a monument to the artist’s philosophy.

Designed by Patterson Architects Associates (PAA), the building is wrapped in a curved, reflective facade in order to celebrate the region’s innovative steel industry. Inside, the space is reverential and considered a “temple” for art, creating a sensory experience with light.
“Lye was fascinated with temples and our design uses principles from the classical world, as well as Polynesian forms and ideas,” said Andrew Patterson, design director of PAA. “These influenced Lye and after all, he was the client.”

PAA developed the design in a holistic or adaptive way, using a “systems methodology.” Rather than following classical proportion and aesthetics, the team used patterns in the ecology of the project’s environments to drive design elements.

“Patterson’s vision best matched the inventiveness, whimsy, and materials of Len Lye’s work, and particularly embraced the importance of light to Len,” said Simon Rees, director of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. “The building provides a fitting setting for Len Lye’s work because of its materials, design, apportionment of spaces, and new cinema. It will do Len proud.”

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