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Monday, August 5, 2013

Martian invasion!

By Marina Correa
Photography: Brett Boardman, Peter Murphy; courtesy the architects

Martian Embassy Centre in Sydney, Australia by LAVA
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Reams of newsprint and digital press have been dedicated to celebrating the design aesthetics and inventive genius behind the Martian Embassy Centre in Sydney, Australia. IAnD visits the project in an attempt to understand why it is such an award magnet…

Designed by LAVA (Laboratory for Visionary Architecture) for The Sydney Story Factory, a non-profit creative writing centre for young people, the project is an explosive fusion of design between a whale, rocket and time tunnel that has applications of such variegated ideas like Moby Dick, Time Machine and 2001: A Space Odyssey have conceptualizing its basic skeleton, with the design succinctly acting as a trigger.

Martian Embassy Centre in Sydney, Australia by LAVA
.

Martian Embassy Centre in Sydney, Australia by LAVA
.

The project’s forte is anchored in the distinctiveness of possessing a cohesive essence; where fluid geometry merges structure, ambience and architectural expression into one singular element. For instance, a stunning 3-D effect has been achieved through the smart application of plywood throughout the fabrication and construction of the embassy, where hundreds of CNC-sliced plywood ribs have been pieced together to form an asymmetrical hub.

Martian Embassy Centre in Sydney, Australia by LAVA
.

Martian Embassy Centre in Sydney, Australia by LAVA
.

Borrowing technologies from the yacht and space industry, timber ribs meander along creating a framework of shelves, benches, counters and displays and, continue as strips on the floor as well – blurring the boundaries between form and function.

Martian Embassy Centre in Sydney, Australia by LAVA
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Staying true to their brief, which was to create a space, where creativity would flourish, the firm gave their best shot to fire up the imaginations of their target audience by making the embassy as far removed from reality. From a shop chock-full of stuff that cannot be got anywhere on earth, to wafting aromas of Martian-infused essential oils and light and sound projections, the intergalactic journey ensures that the kid’s imagination takes flight in this animated planet.
 
Martian Embassy Centre in Sydney, Australia by LAVA
.

Martian Embassy Centre in Sydney, Australia by LAVA
.

Inspiringly, the design has metamorphosed a linear, run-down shop, sandwiched between a funeral parlour and an electrical outlet into an out-of-the-world experience centre, now a prominent part of the cityscape.

Martian Embassy Centre in Sydney, Australia by LAVA
.

With such laudable credentials, it seems like winning awards (see table) is the staple fare of this ‘extraterritorial’ project.


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