Moreau Kusunoki and Genton have won the Powerhouse Parramatta International Design Competition. The project marks the largest investment in arts and culture in NSW since the Sydney Opera House. The Powerhouse Parramatta is designed to transform and renew the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, relocating one of Australia’s oldest and most important cultural institutions.
Moreau Kusunoki and Genton's proposal was noted by the Jury as a "standout, with a delicate and elegant design with a ‘sense of joy’ that will create a landmark cultural destination." Seventy-four teams (including 529 individual firms) entered the open two-stage competition. For the first time, a major cultural institution will be sited in Western Sydney, in Parramatta. The design was made to re-connect the river with the city, creating open space where nature and people can interact, and presents the museum as a cultural platform.
The Jury was unanimous in their decision and commended the proposal for its strong identity. The Jury commented that the generosity of space, transparency and lightness of the structure will create a ‘sense of joy’ that encapsulates the ambitions of the Powerhouse Parramatta. Jury Chair, Naomi Milgrom AO, said that, "Moreau Kusunoki and Genton have designed an exceptional and ambitious project. We see it reflecting the diverse and engaged communities of NSW, providing exceptional public spaces and establishing the Powerhouse Parramatta as a national and international destination.”
Competition Director, Malcolm Reading, said that, “The Jury’s decision was unanimous. This was the most sophisticated and assured proposal, absolutely of its time, attuned to the Australian cultural landscape and dexterous in the way it balanced the Powerhouse’s and local community needs. Moreau Kusunoki is a studio with a global reputation for seriousness about their work and personal modesty. Their Australian partners, Genton, also impressed the Jury with their authenticity and rigour. This is a sound, grounded team for an ambitious project which we expect to become a global landmark."
Moreau Kusunoki and Genton’s museum proposal features a latticed exoskeleton that will allow the public to see glimpses of the exhibitions and collection from the outside and give museum visitors spectacular views of the city and river. The structural steel lattice amplifies the building’s efficiency, minimizing its weight and carbon footprint, and the façade pattern evolves layer by layer – with the highest lattices created from structural timber, giving the impression of the Powerhouse dissolving into the sky. Inspired by the site’s long history as a gathering space for cultural exchange and conviviality, the new Powerhouse Parramatta is orientated towards the riverfront, creating a shaded and green ‘breathing space’ for visitors and locals alike.
Moreau Kusunoki noted that, “Moreau Kusunoki, and our local collaborators at Genton, are grateful and thrilled about the opportunity to design the Powerhouse Parramatta. This is a very significant moment for the Powerhouse Museum and for the city, and we aspire to create a place that is inclusive and welcoming, in touch with the river, landscape, and Country. We envisage the Powerhouse Parramatta as a hyper-platform, a building with limitless potential which continuously evolves."
The Powerhouse Parramatta is envisaged as a multi-functional ‘hyper-platform’, at the core of which will be seven flexible Presentation Spaces. These will enable the museum to showcase its collection and host a program of changing exhibitions and immersive experiences. Between the Presentation Spaces and the latticed exoskeleton will be an additional layer of space, inspired by the Japanese concept of ‘mâ’ – an in-between space which is activated by its users depending on need for the spatial organisation of the museum.
The Competition Jury included:
- Jury Chair, Naomi Milgrom AO, Business Leader and Arts Patron
- Kim Crestani, City Architect, City of Parramatta Council
- Jeanne Gang, Principal and Founder, Studio Gang Architects
- David Gianotten, Managing Partner – Architect, OMA
- Lisa Havilah, Chief Executive, Powerhouse Museum
- Wendy Lewin FRAIA, Principal, Wendy Lewin Architect
- David Riches, Former Head of Projects, Infrastructure NSW
The honorarium for Stage Two was AUD $150,000. The competition process was endorsed by the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) and was organised by independent specialists Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC).