POWERHOUSE: We’ll block bulldozers

THE architects designing the $780M Powerhouse Parramatta has presented to Infrastructure NSW an improved design to include rooftop spaces which images revealed a sweeping view of the city and its river.

The Australian and French architects, Moreau Kusunoki and Genton, according to Architecture AU latest report, has submitted the improved design that reduced the size of the building but with an “inclusion of a new rooftop pavilion.”

The riverfront space of the museum has been reduced by six metres to “allow for a more generous public domain on the northside of the building facing the riverfront.”

On the front entry side of the museum facing the CBD has been increased by six metres to provide a bus stop and drop-off points on Phillip St.

With the reduction of the estimated 18,000sqm exhibition spaces for thousands of prized artefacts within the museum, “a rooftop pavilion” in the eastern side of the building will be used as a “multi-functional indoor-outdoor space for education, community and event activities,” the report said.

It is understood Infrastructure NSW has responded to the architects’ submission, which is included among the 1,303 submissions on the Powerhouse Parramatta plans for a significant development in the state expected to usher an estimated two million visitors to Sydney’s second largest city.

This latest development on the museum has been welcomed by Powerhouse chief executive Lisa Havilah saying, “I am excited by the progress being made on this extraordinary design.”

Ms Havilah also said they welcomed the NSW Government’s recent decision to relocate Willow Grove to North Parramatta because it will mean “improved access to this much-loved building bult also deliver it in a much better setting.”

However, critics of the move include the National Trust, who all say that Willow Grove cannot be moved without significant damage.

President of the Museum Trust, Professor Barney Glover AO, said the completion of the world-class museum will “contribute to the expansion of the visitor and night-time economies of Parramatta while also being a place that importantly reflects the cultural diversity of Sydney.”

“The project will transform the riverfront area into an active public domain with improved pedestrian connections and deliver part of the ‘Civic Link’ which connects the heart of the Parramatta CBD to the river”, said Professor Glover. 

The architects said their “latticed structural exoskeleton” and “seven column-free exhibition spaces” design gives “lightness and transparency of the structure, along with the in-between spaces created, will connect the visitors to the surrounding landscape and enhance a unique Museum experience.”

While tenders have gone out for the building work, the North Parramatta Residents Action Group president Suzette Meade said there needed to be a reassessment of the whole project, given the changes to the original approved design.

‘’They are not minor tweaks we’ve had along the way, with the closing of the undercroft for non-exhibition times, changes to the setback and now the rooftop terrace, so it needs to go back to the community,’’ Mrs Meade told the Times.

NPRAG remains opposed to the current site of the Powerhouse and the demolition or re-siting of Willow Grove. A green ban from the construction union, the CMFEU remains on the Willow Grove site, with members vowing to ‘’stand in front of the bulldozers’’ if necessary.

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