Len Lye Centre

by Mar 27, 2021International Case Studies0 comments

Archicad 20’s shimmering signature building, the Len Lye Centre, is New Zealand’s only single artist museum. Its design is deeply influenced by the life, ideas, writings and work of the famous New Zealand Kinetic Artist, Len Lye (1901–1980).
In 1964, Lye said, “Great architecture goes fifty-fifty with great sculpture.” The structure’s architecture reflects his philosophy: an artwork, he claimed, was a fragment of consciousness interacting with the future. He mainly worked with light. The Len Lye Centre is located in Taranaki, New Zealand, which is known for its stainless steel manufacturing. A light reflecting and transmitting façade engages the 3,000 square metre (32,292 square foot) building with the urban square. This creates a holographic effect that moves light from one location to another, enlivening and activating both.

“Len Lye would] be absolutely thrilled, he’d be dancing around in this place.” 
John Matthews, Chairman, Len Lye Foundation

The Len Lye Centre is built to meet a variety of needs. It needed to work with a planned new art and cultural precinct that connects to the city’s commercial core. It also had to function in harmony with an existing heritage Art Gallery in a converted movie theatre. New gallery rooms, education studios, a 62-seat cinema, the Len Lye Archive, and a dedicated motor room for his kinetic works are all part of the finished building. The effect is a reverent space that uses light as a ‘temple’ for art, providing a sensory experience. “Lye was fascinated by temples, and it seemed fitting to draw inspiration from the “megarons, or great halls, of the classical world, as well as Polynesian forms and concepts, in conceiving the overall design. These ideas inspired Lye as well. To do so, we used a systems approach to improve our thought in a systemic or adaptive way. Rather than using proportion or aesthetics to guide the design elements, we used trends in the ecology of the project’s ecosystems. The gleaming, iridescent colonnade façade, for example, is made locally from stainless steel – Taranaki’s ‘local stone’ – and thus connects Lye’s kinetics and light inventions with the region’s industrial innovation. So we can celebrate and communicate to tourists the reason for his generous donation of his art works to Taranaki by using stainless steel.”
Patterson Associates’ director, Andrew Patterson, says

The deeply pocketed form of the façade creates a collection of photos or reflections that draw visitors to the facility. The top edges of the colonnade create a local koru shape when viewed from above, showing the Museum’s Polynesian influences.

The colonnade creates a theatre curtain within the building, with three asymmetric ramped sides embracing the space of a procession ascending a ramp into various galleries. The circulation system is divided. Through the colonnade’s apertures, light is drawn inside, creating moving light patterns on the walkway, possibly a type of passive kinetic architecture.

Teamwork and
the modern colonnade

Patterson Associates’ 28-member team is brought together to collaborate through architectural creativity, which unites and motivates them. In their architectural practise, they combine a wide variety of disciplines. Each project is born from the selection of individual talents to form the perfect “super team” for the task at hand. Four of the practice’s 14 Archicad users work at the Len Lye Centre. Four of the practice’s 14 Archicad users formed the super team for the Len Lye Centre, working closely together using Archicad’s Teamwork.

The design team created a complex, interactive 3D model that included 3D structural and MEP components. During the two years of development, this model was used to remove all of the project documents, communicate the design purpose to the client, and clarify construction issues.

“BIM is a tool that we use to communicate with stakeholders, with the builders, with everybody connected to the project. It’s a leadership tool that enables us to deliver the project.”

Andrew Patterson, Director

The role of OPEN BIM
in the design and construction

Pattersons understood the value of a solid OPEN BIM base for their design and development workflows from the start. OPEN BIM was critical in figuring out the building’s complex geometry in three dimensions and ensuring a smooth transition from design to manufacture between consultants.

When the façade geometry was complete in Archicad, it was exported to Ecotect 2011 and used in conjunction with Radiance to record sun path reflections. The colonnade columns’ architectural model was sent directly to the pre-cast manufacturers, and the light transferring effect was checked on-site with real-size sample components.

It was critical to establish protocols between the BIM managers of each consultant early on in the project. Since some of the consultants were participating in a test project using the IFC interpreter, a range of demo models were shared between them to ensure that future transfers will be seamless. Data was exchanged on a weekly basis using the OPEN BIM data exchange.

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Patterson Associates, New Zealand http://pattersons.com/ Project name: Len Lye Centre Location: New Plymouth, New Zealand Type: Cultural Cost: AUD 11.5m, USD 8.3m Year of Completion: 2016 Size: 3,000 sqm | 32,292 sqft Architect: Patterson Associates Software used: GRAPHISOFT Archicad, GRAPHISOFT BIMx, Revit Structures, Revit MEP, Rhinoceros, Ecotect, Radiance, SketchUp, 3ds Max, Odeon, Iris

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