Bundanon Art Museum and Bridge is awarded | Architectural vision

Kerstin Thompson Architects has scooped the prestigious Sir Zelman Cowen Award for Public Architecture for its Bundanon Art Museum in New South Wales, Australia. 

A world-class centre for creative arts and education, Bundanon was recognised amongst this year’s most eminent projects, receiving what is valued as the highest honour that can be bestowed in the public architecture category of the National Australian Architecture Awards. The jury claimed that it is fast becoming a “reference for the holy grail of Australian Architecture.” 

Bundanon is nestled within 1,000 hectares of bush and parkland on the south coast of New South Wales, Australia

In response to the award announcement, Bundanon’s CEO Rachel Kent, said: “It is an extraordinary recognition of Bundanon’s new Art Museum and Bridge for Creative Learning, which is now one of the most architecturally awarded public buildings in Australia.”

“It is wonderful to see the public enjoying the new art museum, bridge, and wider site. Bushfire resilience and flood mitigation were driving forces in the architectural design. These new buildings expand public access, deepen engagement in creativity and the landscape, and position Bundanon both nationally and internationally.” 

The newly created facilities are intended to re-establish the historic Boyd cluster of buildings as the heart of the experience

The world-class creative learning and cultural centre was created for the Bundanon Trust in the Shoalhaven region of New South Wales, and since opening in January 2022 it has welcomed over 35,000 visitors. It truly makes the most of its lush surroundings, giving sightseers a spectacle spanning 1,000 hectares of bush and parkland overlooking the Shoalhaven River.

One of the main architectural considerations for Kerstin Thompson Architects, whilst working in close collaboration with environmental design consultants Atelier Ten, was to design a structure that would be both resilient and sensitive to its landscape. The site’s ecology played a central role in determining the subterranean art museum and the 160-metre-long, 9-metre-wide flood bridge which is suspended above an existing gully. 

Bundanon’s design draws inspiration from the distinctive Australian native bush land and rural Australia’s flood ‘trestle’ bridges

Bundanon was also given a national Award for Sustainable Architecture at the National Australian Architecture Awards. The architectural design is acknowledged for its ecological workings of the landscape and its future-proof structure. 

“The site needed great care and respect for what was here already, which was very special, with one of the finest buildings in the country, but also a very complex cultural history,” explained Kerstin Thompson Architects. 

A year-round program of exhibitions of modern, contemporary and First Nations art, as well as new commissions, is presented at the Bundanon Art Museum. In fact, there’s a state-of-the-art storage facility that houses and protects Bundanon’s extensive $46.5 million collection of some 4,000 items. 

Running from 26th November 2022 until 12th March 2023 will be the anticipated ’Siteworks 2022: A Deep Valley’ exhibition and program. This is set to draw on climate research, critical thinking, First Nations knowledge and technologies, and creative digital spaces. 

The creative arts and education centre also offers a place to explore the landscape and engage with the environment

Photography by Rory Gardiner.

Discover more projects by Melbourne-based practice Kerstin Thompson Architects.

Read more sustainable architecture news on enki, including Japanese designer Yuma Kano’s new type of wood and the world’s first car-powered retreat by Hyundai.

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