Bin Dome
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Temporary installation of a geodesic dome at the National Gallery of Victoria for the Melbourne Now exhibition (Nov 2013 - Mar 2014).

Project text
In the mid 1960s, while he was designing the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), architect Roy Grounds was experimenting with geometry on a property near Penders on the south-coast of NSW. One of his experiments was a geodesic dome, of the kind pioneered in the USA by radical designer, scientist, engineer and philosopher Buckminster Fuller. But where Fuller’s domes were military grade, Grounds’ interpretation was far more ‘Australian’. In place of Fuller’s crisp lightweight aluminium struts, Grounds had used timber logs. And instead of refined steel spider junctions, Grounds had used the lids of old tin garbage bins. The result is a peculiar hybrid of pure geometry meets the Leyland Brothers, the can-do, she’ll-be-right, Aussie spirit that’s become so strong in our national mythology.

This dome formed the starting point for the ‘Bin Dome’, an installation designed by Rory Hyde Projects for the Melbourne Now exhibition at the NGV, summer 2013-14. Sited in Federation Court, the central courtyard of Grounds’ 1968 fortress of culture, the Bin Dome draws together Grounds’ private experiments with his more formal outcomes. The bin lids of the Penders dome have become 1,000 IKEA bins, the generic and ubiquitous product of our globalised world. These inexpensive and familiar products take on a more heroic and specular quality when arrayed en masse, focussing the sunlight and casting shadows.

The Bin Dome is also covered in air plants (Tilandsias and Bromeliads) as a way to return the some of the qualities of the outdoors that was central to Grounds’ original design for Federation Court, lost in the gallery’s renovation of 2002.
Designed as a social space for events, meeting up with friends, and shelter from the summer sun, the Bin Dome draws upon Melbourne’s history of experimental architecture and utopian thinking to create a generous public space within the gallery.


Video by Dewi Cooke, The Age.


Thanks to Amy Silver for everything. Thanks to Ed Hyde, Vaughan Howard, Darcy Zelenko, Dharman Gersch, Ziga Testen, Darragh O’Brien and Aiman Ahmad for their help with building. Thanks to Toby Pond and Tim Black for design advice, and to Jon Anderson of Hive Engineering for structural advice. Thanks to Tim and Caleb Wallace at Vicbeam for fabricating the LVLs. Thanks to Kevin O'Connor at the RMIT Architecture workshop for help milling the ply profiles. Thanks to Anthony and Chloe Hyde for much advice along the way and for tolerating the prototypes filling up their living room. Thanks to Paul Beale and Jess Perry for lighting advice. Thanks to Eugene Howard for sticking up all the plants. Thanks to NGV staff Nicole Montiero, Don Heron, Mark Patulo, Adam Graf for all their help along the way. And thanks especially to Max Delany and Tony Elwood for giving the opportunity to create something for this incredible site and exhibition, and for their confidence and faith in this experiment.