Architect: Smart Design Studio
Location: Sydney, Australia
Project Team: William Smart, Hamish Ginn, Hon Loong, Tatsu Hayashi, Luke Moloney
Client: White Rabbit Foundation
Structural Engineer: Partridge Partners
Services Engineer: Itc Group
Site Project Manager: Northcroft
Planner: Urbis Jhd
Heritage: Design 5
Bca / Pca: Dix Gardner
Lighting: Architectural Lighting Design
Text: Provided by Smart Design Studio
Project Year: 2008
Photographs: Courtesy of Smart Design Studio
The White Rabbit Gallery houses one of the world’s largest and most significant collections of contemporary Chinese art. The gallery displays a permanent collection of many of the ‘big names’ in the contemporary Chinese art movement while allowing visitors to discover the work of younger, emerging artists from China across a variety of media.
The project involved the conversion of a large freestanding brick warehouse with an additional rooftop level in inner-city Chippendale to accommodate four floors of gallery space, a tea-house, digital media theatrette, reception, staff car parking and an artist-in-residence studio.
Close to Sydney’s Chinatown and Central Railway Station, Chippendale is characterised by its turn-of-the-century brick warehouses that in recent years have housed artists’ studios, galleries and the workplaces for various creative industries; an area that is currently undergoing large-scale urban redevelopment. The former Carlton United Brewery (CUB) adjacent to the gallery site, is planned to be one of the largest urban redevelopment sites that Sydney has known. The cultural contribution the White Rabbit Gallery will make to the CUB development and the regeneration of this inner-city precinct is significant.
The raw and textured brick shell of the industrial warehouse is complimented by the crisp, modern alterations to create an invigorating gallery experience and a robust backdrop for the striking artwork collection. A three-storey sculpture hall provides for the display of specific sculptural works in the collection and brings the dramatic play of natural light into the deepest parts of the building. Fluorescent light tubes are incorporated within sculptural window boxes that replace the aluminium warehouse windows, becoming modern white installation elements that diffuse sunlight through the skin of the building. A new, flat, white roof sails over the building parapet to cap the original structure and mark this special new cultural place in Sydney’s inner city.