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    © Moreau Kusunoki / Genton

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    © Moreau Kusunoki / Genton

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    © Moreau Kusunoki / Genton

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    © Moreau Kusunoki / Genton

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Winners of the Powerhouse Parramatta International Design Competition announced

Georgina Johnston
26 Dec 2019

The creation of the Powerhouse Parramatta, designed by architects Moreau Kusunoki and Genton, will mark the largest investment in arts and culture in New South Wales since Sydney Opera House

The team, Moreau Kusunoki and Genton, includes a diverse collaboration between a French/Japanese studio and an accomplished Australian practice; conceived as ‘welcoming and inclusive to the diverse communities of Greater Sydney’, the Powerhouse Parramatta will transform and renew the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, relocating one of Australia’s oldest and most important cultural institutions. 

The Powerhouse Parramatta signifies a major shift in how Sydney perceives its identity, its culture and its communities. For the first time, a major cultural institution will be sited in Western Sydney, in Parramatta, at the metropolis’ geographical heart.

The winning French/Japanese and Australian team, Moreau Kusunoki and Genton, beat 73 teams, including 529 individual firms, to triumph with their multifaceted Powerhouse design concept, which reconnects the river with the city, creates generous open space where nature and people can interact, and presents the museum as an innovative cultural platform.

The Jury was unanimous in their decision and commended the proposal for its elegant design and strong identity. The Jury commented that the generosity of space, transparency and lightness of the structure will create a ‘sense of joy’ that encapsulates the ambitions of the Powerhouse Parramatta.

This announcement signals the next stage in the transformation and renewal of one of Australia’s oldest and most important cultural institutions. Moreau Kusunoki and Genton will develop an exceptional design to carry forward the great legacy of the Powerhouse and its collection for future generations. 

D. Harwin, New South Wales Minister for the Arts. 

We envisage 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. The flexible and dynamic presentation spaces are linked through transparent connecting spaces, which offer a quiet place for reflection, a lively place for interaction, a safe, neutral space for meetings and the creation of new shared memories. The Powerhouse will transcend scale to exist simultaneously as both intimate and iconic.

M. Kusunoki. 

Moreau Kusunoki and Genton’s museum proposal features a delicate latticed exoskeleton that will allow the public to see glimpses of the exhibitions and collection from the outside and give museum visitors spectacular views of the city and river.

The structural steel lattice amplifies the building’s efficiency, minimising its weight and carbon footprint, and the façade pattern evolves layer by layer, with the highest lattices created from structural timber, giving the impression of the Powerhouse dissolving into the sky.

Inspired by the site’s long history as a gathering space for cultural exchange and conviviality, the new Powerhouse Parramatta is orientated towards the riverfront, creating a shaded and green ‘breathing space’ for visitors and locals alike.

The 24 hour precinct will fluidly connect the museum with the surrounding streets and provide, in Moreau Kusunoki and Genton’s words, a ‘transparent urban lounge’ where visitors can reconnect with nature but also experience Parramatta’s lively social scene and cultural treasures, as it redefines itself as Sydney’s Central River City.

Challenging the perception of a conventional museum, the Powerhouse Parramatta is envisaged as a multi-functional ‘hyper-platform’, at the core of which will be seven flexible Presentation Spaces. These will enable the museum to showcase its internationally significant collection and host a dynamic programme of changing exhibitions and immersive experiences.

Between the Presentation Spaces and the latticed exoskeleton will be an additional layer of space, inspired by the Japanese concept of ‘mâ’, an in between space which is activated by its users depending on need, enriching the spatial organisation of the museum. Interspersed throughout the building, these will be places for rest, relaxation and reflection and will be enhanced by museum activities and programming. 

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