Between the stepped stone podium and hovering canopies, an openness and transparency is created to allow views through, into and out of the gallery circulation and display spaces and into the green landscape of Albert Park. In this way the gallery opens to the park and adjoining public spaces in an inviting and engaging gesture of welcome.
The entry sequence into the gallery follows a progression from the street forecourt, under a generous and welcoming canopy, through into a lower foyer to emerge via a broad stair into the large, light-filled atrium. The atrium provides a central orientation and display space for all visitors. Gallery circulation extends from the main atrium in a clear series of loops interconnecting all gallery spaces via the smaller southern atrium that mediates the junction with the existing Wellesley Wing.
A diverse range of exhibition spaces and rooms are created, both fixed and flexible, formal and informal, heritage and contemporary, naturally lit and artificially lit, open and closed, high spaces and lower spaces.
In conscious opposition to the mansard roofs of the existing building, the tessellated canopy roof in Karuri wood extends over these galleries so as to bond the old and the new indissolubly together; this fusion that extends beyond the roof forms to encompass the circulation itself.
— Kenneth Frampton
Architects in Association: Archimedia
The ceilings of the canopies are assembled from carefully selected Kauri, sourced only from fallen forest stocks, profiled into precise geometric patterns. A synthesis of computer aided design, skilled joinery techniques and traditional boat building technology was used to fabricate the Kauri canopy.
The south atrium frames a vista to the tree canopy of Albert Park. A stepped informal amphitheatre is created for school and educational groups as well as performances, the triangular ceiling of the south atrium is set back from the heritage building via a perimeter of skylight. The bridge through the south atrium connects the Wellesley Gallery with the main building.