Fluid contours of bio-resin, a custom formulation written specifically by Cox for the project, wraps the shop’s perimeter to form a transparent margin that serves as both boundary and display. The bubble captures natural light throughout the day bringing dynamic reflections and refractions of the city while holding people, objects, and books within its centre. A pair of ‘windows’ in the perimeter form sit on a singular axis, allowing a direct line of sight from the Domain, across the volume of the shop and into the Entrance Pavilion that creates a frame for artworks, including the exuberant floral sculpture by Yayoi Kusama, Flowers that Bloom in the Cosmos, on the external terrace.
Akin Atelier worked with multi-disciplinary designer Hayden Cox, best known for his innovative, world-leading surfboard brand Haydenshapes, over two years in an experimental and collaborative design development and research process to achieve the complex, large-format application of bio-resin, pushing shape and volume beyond the normal parameters to best harness light and colour. With resin being a key material traditional to surfboard manufacturing, the unique collaboration drew on experience and learnings from Cox’s previous large-scale resin and design work applied to interior architecture.
Akin Atelier’s choice of resin as the primary material for the Gallery Shop speaks directly to the transparency of SANAA’s building design in the public spaces. Resin was selected for its texture, dimension, and ability to respond to the shifting daylight. The handmade craft of this material allowed for experimentation across colour and form. Through the lens of the surrounding landscape, the bespoke quality and hand finish of the installation addresses the patinated qualities of the incidental structures and touchpoints of the external environment; time worn balustrades, striated sandstone cut-ins, soapboxes, and rotundas.
Colour selection was led by Akin Atelier. A rigorous exploration of the Art Gallery’s context resulted in the colour referencing the sandstone of the original gallery building. The gradation of tone speaks to the layered nature of Sydney’s sandstone geology, and acts as a visual continuation of the rammed earth wall present in the gallery volumes of the new building on the levels below. Utilising 12 tonnes of bio-resin, sintered layers of colour with micro-weighted pigment volumes were hand poured and finished by Cox’s dedicated resin team in Mona Vale, Sydney, into custom moulds for 109 consecutive days to achieve the gradient. The bubble’s glossy translucency was achieved with 12 grit levels of hand-sanding and 7 hand-polishing stages. Each unit required over 3 weeks of hand polishing by highly skilled, specialist Haydenshapes resin workers. A total of 29 unique resin modules each weighing between 300 and 500 kilograms comprises the installation.