Patterson Architects

New Plymouth

New Zealand

The Len Lye Centre is an international destination for experimental film and kinetic art. It houses the collection and archive of Len Lye, one of the most original artists of the twentieth century. Pioneer filmmaker, sculptor, painter and poet, his extraordinary body of work gives us a unique view into Modernism and offers a rich vein for inspiration and insight.

Led by a growing interest locally and internationally in his work, the centre opened in 2015 adjoining the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. This state of the art facility houses Lye’s archive, display galleries, an education centre, and a 62-seat cinema. Designed by New Zealand architect Andrew Patterson, the building is a contemporary interpretation of the essence of Lye and a major cultural destination on the Pacific Rim.

Like a Lye sculpture, the shimmering stainless steel façade is a striking and provocative expression of movement. The curtain-like exterior is seemingly fluid as the curved steel reflects and transmits light, activating the spaces within and without. It is a modern day temple, reinterpreting Lye’s fusion of ancient and modern concepts, and his proposition for a ‘temple of art’.

A colonnade, vestibule and inner sanctum are each expressed in new form to provoke an unworldly experience and to challenge the dominance of pure modernism in contemporary architecture. In this temple, art is now the deity, the archive and galleries the sacred spaces. Scale, materials, light and atmosphere are composed as in a film to activate the senses and incite a poetic dimension.


Great architecture goes fifty-fifty with great art.

Len Lye