Mario Bellini is an Italian architect and designer internationally renowned. He graduated from the Milan Polytechnic – Faculty of Architecture in 1959 and began working as an architect himself in the early 1960s. He is the winner among others of 8 Golden Compass Award (Compasso d’Oro is the italian name for this award) and prestigious architecture awards including the Medaglia d’Oro conferred on him by the President of the Italian Republic.
One of his best projects was National Gallery of Victoria International. The Gallery was enlarged and completely redesigned, leaving the external architecture untouched. This enormous task began in 1996 after an invitation-only international competition, which was won by Mario Bellini in association with Metier 3. Bellini’s submission competed against those by some of the best architects in the world, including Arata Isozaki, D.C.M.- Gae Aulenti, and Pei Cobb Freed.
“After seven long years of studies, discussions and work,” says Mario Bellini, “the winning idea was that of returning this great monument to the citizens of Melbourne absolutely intact in its role as urban symbol, yet, simultaneously, radically rethought and transformed in its role as a museum.
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The project involves 30 exhibition rooms devoted to the permanent collection displaying international works ranging from Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Asian to contemporary art, It includes a comprehensive collection of decorative arts, as well as a significant collection of works on paper.
Three large spaces are devoted to the display of temporary exhibitions. The new development incorporates a new foyer and large orientation space, halls for performances and conferences capable of holding 500 people, café for 250 visitors, a spacious shop, education facilities and collection study areas. This revitalized institution has been designed and built to cater to many thousands of visitors a year.
All in all, this is a remarkable sample of modern architecture nowadays.