Every two years in Palmer, the sun comes out and bathes the endless landscapes of the Mount Lofty Ranges for the Palmer Sculpture Biennial.
Through a close relationship with artist and Biennial curator Greg Johns, Tectvs was approached to create a pavilion for visiting patrons. Having previously worked together on multiple projects - including Dawson House, Blue Iguana restaurant and Belair National Park - the pavilion invited Tectvs to the edge of mallee country; a 163 hectare (403 acre) property of big skies and big landscapes, hilly and undulating, with a rock escarpment and three small creek lines that form part of the Reedy Creek Catchment which flows to the River Murray. Needless to say, both the artistic license and landscape sensitivities warranted a structure that challenged the objectivist norm between nomenclatures of architecture, art and landscape.
As Greg Johns writes, the Palmer Biennial (established in 2004) acts as "a restorative, environmental engagement of this particular landscape.
"The resultant forms placed carefully at Palmer are different to sculpture being produced in other parts of the world; they are deliberately not international in style. They are I believe Australian sculpture; strangely perhaps very few sculptors in my country have taken on the unique flavour of this place."
In serving the audience of the Biennial, the departure point of the pavilion emerged from a discourse surrounding ways in which an 'encounter' between landscape and architecture could create an in-between space. Architectural pavilions perform two key roles: shelter and language. Their supplicant role extends the scope of an artistic endeavour towards a functional structure - thus requiring a technical logic to drift towards abstraction.
In approaching this brief, Tectvs pursed an abstraction that openly limited its impact, yet went beyond its limitations.
What resulted was an iterative design language of 'idea clouds'; a series of pavilions which grow in number with future demand. The iterative form-making process would lend itself to the temporary nature of an art biennial, with the 'clouds' providing subtle shading that complimented the creative landscapes of the site.
The remote location of the site brought about construction challenges. Poor vehicular access lent a hand-made approach.
Built by hand, on site, by Architect together with sculptor, the structure features steel rods, torn and threaded, that spike the ground. A detachable fabric shade hangs above attached at varying heights. Patrons survey the scenery protected from the harsh sun, yet remain open to the landscape and its multiple sculptures. Technically simple, conceptually subtle. The pavilion separates itself from the language of the architectural drawing to place a greater tendency towards craft. So far, one 'idea cloud' has taken flight, but in the distance over the hills, many more are forming.
The Palmer Sculpture Biennial continues to this day. You can find out more information about Greg Johns and the Palmer Sculpture Biennial at the link: www.palmersculpturebiennial.org