In Absence

‘In Absence’ is the fifth annual NGV Architecture Commission. The structure uses dark stained wood as a singular material in order to strip the architecture back to the poignant questions it raises.
Project Name
In Absence by Edition Office
Case Study Type

180 Saint Kilda Road
Southbank VIC 3006

Photographer Details
Ben Hosking


In Absence uses architecture as a tool for questioning the Australian identity. The installation confronts the difficult question of how our nation came to be, and seeks to highlight the false premise of Terra Nullius on which this country was founded, declaring Australia as an emptiness awaiting ownership.

-37.8226009, 144.9693358


The materials used to construct the work were purposefully singular, with black-stained, rough-sawn Tasmanian timber boards wrapping the entirety of the structure. This singular textural element established the strong physical presence of the work and that of the carved-out spaces within as the site of interaction for an audience. From inside the work, this dark, textured surface frames the theatre of time and of sky as its penetrating sunlight drifts down and across the two central chambers as if in a slow and synchronised dance.

Though seemingly a monolithic construction carved out of a single piece of material, the structure was in fact built from a frame of pine studs, with hardwood plywood bracing, and laminated plywood curved plates and noggins. The structural details are laid out in the plan drawing provided with this case study. 

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