Out of six top-notch finalists for the Powerhouse Precinct at Parramatta competition, the jury unanimously decided on the team led by Moreau Kusunoki and their Australian collaborator Genton as the winner. The Powerhouse Parramatta project will transform and renew the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, one of Australia’s oldest and most significant cultural institutions, into a central arts and cultural district.
The team won the jury's favor with their multi-faceted design concept, which envisions the Powerhouse Parramatta as “a hyper-platform, a building with limitless potential which continuously evolves. The built form treads lightly on the site, creating a porous ground plane. The architecture connects the city with the river, providing generous public space and creating an open 24-hour precinct that engages locals and visitors,” Moreau Kusunoki said. The Paris-based practice made headlines for winning the Guggenheim Helsinki competition in 2015.
Oriented towards the riverfront, the 24-hour precinct will connect the museum with surrounding streets and offer a “transparent urban lounge” for visitors and locals alike to reconnect with nature, while experiencing Parramatta's vibrant cultural scene. The winning team was inspired by the site’s long history as a gathering space for cultural exchange.
The new museum will be encased in a delicate latticed exoskeleton. The structural steel lattice minimizes its weight and carbon footprint, with the highest lattices made from structural timber to "give the impression of the Powerhouse dissolving into the sky”.
The museum will be a “hyper-platform” featuring seven flexible Presentation Spaces to showcase its extensive international collection and to host various public programs.
In between the Presentation Spaces will be quieter places for respite that will be interspersed throughout the building — an an element inspired by the Japanese concept of “mâ”, an in-between space activated by its users depending on their needs. These spaces would further enrich the museum's spatial organization, the design team says.
Competition director Malcolm Reading praised the winning design as “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.”
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