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  • Pearl

Project Overview

Material Thinking in collaboration with NAAU principle Edmund Carter were commissioned by the Darwin Waterfront Corporation to develop Pearl, a public artwork and architecture situated in the centre of the Darwin Waterfront Precinct. Pearl consists of two stages: Masts (an initial public artwork) and Shell (a landscape design); followed by Pearl (architecture/cultural facility).

Shell is the name given to the landscape in which Masts (initial artwork) and Pearl (cultural facility) are nested. It consists of an inner landscape (the ground plan or footprint of Pearl, initially occupied by Masts and the adjoining stage) and an outer landscape (comprising the remainder of the landscape design, seating, function and performance spaces, family meeting places, kiosk and shade structures).

Masts consists of seven curviform forms arranged on the footprint of Pearl, the cultural facility to come. These Masts are of different sizes, outlines and curvatures and stand at different angles to the vertical. The Masts are connected along shallow curving channels of water, which are set into the ground; their outer surfaces reference the laminated textures and opalescent hues of pearl shell, and their inner surfaces are programmable.

Pearl is informed by Darwin’s past and present regional association with pearls and pearl shells. The laminating processes involved in the production of pearls inspires its architecture. The recurrent layering creates a graceful, curvilinear series of walls that mediate between inside and outside. At the centre of Pearl is Tidal, a sculptural work inspired by the pivotal role Darwin’s exceptional tides play in pearl production. Pearl will have both permanent and temporary exhibition spaces, and will feature visitor-immersive, interactive digital art. The permanent exhibition narrates, in an innovative cross-media form, seven Darwin stories that can be flexibly accessed, especially by children, through a non-linear floor pattern called Labyrinth.

Project Team

Material Thinking with Edmund Carter (NAAU)

Project Status

Completed Concept Design - On Hold


Darwin, Australia