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AM’s Project Discover winner National

Australian Museum Project Discover by Cox Architecture with Neeson Murcutt and Neille. Image: Brett Boardman

2021 National Award for Public Architecture, Architecture AU, 4 November 2021

Australian Museum Project Discover by Cox Architecture with Neeson Murcutt and Neille.

Jury citation

Quiet as it may seem, befitting its relatively minor scope, this work displays a deep understanding of the original plan of this important heritage building and its potential long-term future. Hitherto suffocated by poor decisions and even poorer government interventions, the building as cast in 1846 by Mortimer Lewis, a clearly profound architectural mind, was deeply stifled in its natural development.

It may be argued that these interventions, which were guided by the museum’s masterplan, were not ambitious enough to open the obvious central courtyard and enable the building’s passage into the realm of an abiding work with international reach. However, the team of Cox Architecture and Neeson, Murcutt and Neille has mindfully and selflessly paved the way for this work to be furthered. The enduring nature of this first but most important intervention constitutes a deep and resounding offering to future generations – that is, if governments are wise to the possibilities.

Project credits

Architect: Cox Architecture with Neeson Murcutt and Neille
Project team: Rachel Neeson, Joe Agius, Mark Davey, Stephen Neille, Joseph Grech, Nick Gonsalves, Leanne Mitchell, Chris Tran, Hannah Slater, Ben Dixon
Builder: Kane Constructions
Structural engineer: D’Ambrosio Consulting Engineers
Heritage consultant: Orwell and Peter Phillips
Lighting and ESD consultant: Arup
Services consultant: ADP Consulting
Landscape consultant: Sue Barnsley Design
Certifier: Steve Watson and Partners
Access consultant: Access Associates Sydney
Town planner: Ethos Urban
Quantity surveyor: Altus Group
Project management: Compass Project Management
Acoustic consultant: EMM Consulting
Other consultants: Art of Fact

Australian Museum Project Discover is located in Darlinghurst, New South Wales on the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation.

Published online: 4 Nov 2021
Words: 2021 National Architecture Awards Jury
Images: Brett Boardman
Architecture Australia, November 2021