POWERHOUSE: Design that kept heritage

WITH all the controversy surrounding the Powerhouse Museum in Parramatta, we revisit the only design on the shortlist that retained the heritage properties Willow Grove and St George’s Terrace in Phillip St.

So, would this have been more palatable to opponents who say the planned building would be flood-prone and comes at the price of irreplaceable heritage – which they say will not survive the NSW Government’s solution of move to another site?

The architects of this rejected design Steven Holl Architects (US) and Conrad Gargett (Australia) envisioned “an anthropological vessel touching the earth lightly’ – a homage to Mandjabu fish traps.

The jury, made up of a panel of leading architects and builders, praised the “courage and ambition” of the team’s design and said the key objectives of maximizing public space, aiming to achieve net-zero emissions, and concentrating the museum functions were considered to be excellent starting points for the design.

The jury ultimately found, however, that the scale of the building was not appropriate for the site, and that the juxtaposition between museum and heritage buildings would be “jarring.”

Moreau Kusunoki and Genton ultimately won the design competition with its controversial museum with a latticed “hyper-platform” design in December, but the other short-listed designs were not released until after the decision was made.

Since then, the design has been tweaked a couple of times, but not so Willow Grove can be saved on its present site.

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