Australian architecture is rooted in the land. From environmental and climatic concerns to the country's unique cultural background, the built environment down under is defined by a history of connections to local contexts. Today, Australian architecture has also come to embrace a multicultural identity, with a new class of cultural projects showcasing how contemporary buildings and structures are being designed for the future.
Illustrating ties to the land, the architecture of Australia once varied based on its proximity to the coast, historically using local materials to create semi-permanent beach homes by indigenous people. Later, colonial British influences and emerging styles like the Queenslander and Federation would take hold. This background came to inform how modern architects design with consideration to light, landscape, and ancestry within a larger design context. The following projects explore the influence and character of contemporary Australian architecture through the lens of the country's cultural projects.
Geelong Arts Centre by Hassell
Geelong Arts Centre’s $38.5 million redevelopment has opened to the public with a new Ryrie Street entrance set in a modern façade providing a new experience for visitors from across the city of Geelong, the region and beyond. As the only state-owned arts centre in Victoria outside of Melbourne, this destination will also serve the needs of a growing creative and cultural community.
The Princess Precinct by refresh*design
The ‘Princess Precinct’ is a rare surviving example of terrace houses constructed in the 1860s in one of Brisbane’s oldest suburbs. All layers of the building had been peeled back to its original condition and a structurally glazed façade was added to the existing structure. Together with lifestyle graphics, this minimalist façade provides privacy to the inside during the day and offers exposure in the evening when the lights are turned on.
Bunjil Place by fjmt
Bunjil Place is a library, a performance theater, a public gathering space, a place of exhibition, gallery and display, as well as a flexible and experimental space for events, lectures, debate and celebration. It was also designed to be a service center and a place of work and collaboration. The team aimed to make it a place where diverse programs overlap and interconnect, and at the center is the interconnecting fluid form of the foyer gathering space, a non-hierarchical space that unifies the complex.
Cobram Library & Learning Center by CohenLeigh Architects
The Cobram Library & Learning Centre is a ‘local’ library, embracing emerging technologies while promoting flexible learning with library spaces across all ages. Working closely with community stakeholders, the design process involved tracing the line of the nearby Murray River, then superimposing this as the cut line on a curvilinear timber battened screen. The result is a dynamic façade that wraps the perimeter of the library, filtering & throwing light into the internal library spaces.
Haven’t you always wanted …? by M@ STUDIO Architects
The project titled ‘Haven’t you always wanted …?’ is a temporary pavilion and was the winning entry from a two stage open national competition held in 2016 by the National Gallery of Victoria. The competition brief asked architects to consider innovative ways to activate one of Melbourne’s great civic spaces, the Grollo Equiset Garden, with a thought‐provoking work of temporary architecture.
Lyon Housemuseum by Lyons
The Lyon Housemuseum is an experimental project which speculates on the conjunction of art and living to challenge conventional notions of public and private and explore new relationships between art and architecture through a hybridized type – a ‘housemuseum’. Located in Melbourne, the building accommodates the daily living needs of a family of four and the requirements of a public museum housing a major collection of Australian contemporary art.
Cairns Botanic Gardens Visitors Centre by Charles Wright Architects
Camouflaged in an Australian rainforest located in Far North Queensland, this unique gateway into the Cairns Botanic Gardens Visitors Centre is the recipient of the 2012 Eddie Oribin Award for Building of the Year presented by the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA). In June 2009, Charles Wright Architects (CWA) was invited by the Cairns Regional Council to enter a limited competition for the design of a new Visitors’ Centre for the Cairns Botanical Gardens.