City symbol in the making

February 15, 2018

John Denton says SAM’s soon-to-be five-storey building will be a state-of-the-art museum that will reflect the region.

An artist's impression of the future new Shepparton Art Museum at Victoria Park Lake, designed by firm Denton Corker Marshall.

Not many tea towels sold in Shepparton feature a large, monolithic, cube-like structure on them.

One surrounded by a lake and park precinct.

But with any luck, this is what John Denton, one of the key brains behind what the new Shepparton Art Museum will look like, anticipates will be available soon.

The new SAM at Victoria Park Lake aims to be a postcard — and tea towel — worthy symbol for the city.

Positioned at the southern entrance to Shepparton, the south-east corner of the lake precinct to be precise, the coming facility aims to be a meeting place of sorts: for coffee, art, and events.

Architects Denton Corker Marshall last year won a competition to design the soon-to-be five-storey, state-of-the-art museum.

Their design includes a rooftop space and the potential for views across the Goulburn Valley and is being sold as a work of art in itself, with projections possible on its exterior panels.

Chatting over the phone this week, Mr Denton highlighted the importance of such structures being a ‘‘collision’’ of underlying ideas, not just a collision of form and material.

Moreover, he argued how vital it was for museums such as the new SAM to be able to reflect the region it called home, and tell its story.

‘‘We wanted it to be something that stood out,’’ he said of the design.

‘‘It’s going to be quite a big building,’’ adding the hope was for it to become something of a symbol for Shepparton.

Mr Denton said soon the architects would present their design development report, set to include a more nuts-and-bolts picture of how the facility would work.

He talked about the design process as having been fairly straightforward so far, with no significant curve balls arising, aside from some flood work needed.

As for the potential impact on Shepparton, the architect described the new facility as having an ‘‘enormous cultural stimulus’’.

Regarding the design, Mr Denton highlighted the need for each function of the building to be able to be visited independently of one another.

‘‘To make that space work properly, it needs to be independently accessed,’’ he said.

‘‘Having its own presence, on the little hill, people can come out, sit on tables and chairs, look out across the gardens and lake.

‘‘There needs to be that sort of independence.’’

He said visitors could come to the museum just for a coffee, without necessarily visiting the gallery, or vice versa.

He talked about the need for a place such as the new SAM to appeal to as broad a cross-section of the community as possible.

‘‘The full spectrum that live and work (in Shepparton),’’ he said.

‘‘It’s got to be interesting, it’s got to be fun. And you’ve got to have good facilities for kids and education.’’

Mr Denton said project stakeholders had been providing information on the city and its profile, to help inform the sort of space set to appeal.

Alongside stories of the city woven into the facelift, Mr Denton said the building also needed to tell its own story, the one about how the new museum was created.

‘‘They’re the things that people who run the gallery... can talk about, the stories of how the gallery came to beth... the way it is,’’ he said.

‘‘The building has to be able to tell a story as well.’’

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