Text description provided by the architects. Macarthur Gardens is a new housing estate one hour West of Sydney. The Education and Display Suite is where the project ‘vision’ is communicated and where individual housing lots will be sold. When all 900 Lots are gone, the building will be packed up and re-assembled at the next development, the current site developed.
The client’s brief seemed simple; a re-useable structure that would stand out from its residential context and act as a tool to help educate potential purchasers about environmental processes and the benefits of more sustainable ways of living.
Inspired by Jørn Utzon’s unbuilt Bayview House's of the 1960's, a ‘lego set’ or kit of parts was created, whereby the logic of a repeating structural system (precast concrete) is the architetcure. Wherever possible the structure is revealed and explored for its sculptural and material qualities. Elements like the roof/gutters that tip water into the concrete awning, then down a rain chain and into tanks for reuse is a small metaphor of the sites hydrology that helps underscore the relationship of the building to the land.
Apart from concrete the other major material is timber. Recycled blackbutt elements internally and ochre-stained rough-sawn plywood cladding externally. Notions of 'home' - moments of warmth and intimacy act as counterpoint to the cool gallery environment; limed hoop-pine and brushbox contrast and complement the cool rationality of the concrete structure.
For us the building acts as prototype for a new approach to the issue of low-cost suburban housing. Our clients loved it and version 1.1 in Melbourne was also finished.