PHAROS WING, MUSEUM OF OLD AND NEW ART
The hypothetical site for the 2018 Tapestry Design Prize for Architects is Boullée’s mooted building that was inspiration for the Pharos Wing, MONA, Tasmania, Australia. MONA was designed by Fender Katsalidis Architects to house David Walsh’s extraordinary collection of old and new art.
“Boullée’s fondness for grandiose designs has caused him to be characterized as both a megalomaniac and a visionary.”
That’s from the Wikipedia article on Étienne-Louis Boullée. Those around me, my staff, friends and sycophants, call me a visionary to my face and a megalomaniac to each other. Megalomaniacs have, as their biological brief, a desire to do things that can’t be done. So in Pharos, we brought some masters of caprice together. I’d like to put them in a room together.
Until Nonda and his mates started talking about Boullée I’d never heard of him. We have now built a wing of Mona called Pharos, and parts of that wing are both a paean to, and in thrall of, Boullée’s grandiose Cenotaph for Isaac Newton.
Here’s how we ripped him off:
Images 1 - 2: Étienne-Louis Boullée, Cenotaph for Newton. Images 3 - 4: Unseen Seen, 2017, James Turrell. Images courtesy of the artist and MONA Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.
Elsewhere in Pharos is a thrashing machine of Jean Tinguely. Tinguely also harnessed geometry, but then let it loose. Both abstracted geometrical elements for whimsy. What would have happened if they collaborated on a design that, in true Boullée style, was unconstrained by the requirement that it be constructable?
Images courtesy of Fender Katsalidis Architects and MONA.