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Griffith Univ & Murweh Shire Intl design comp for

Image of Queensland outback. Image: Tim Davies via Unsplash.

Isla Sutherland, International design competition launched for ‘outback’ museum, ArchitectureAu, 6 September 2022

Griffith University and Murweh Shire have launched an international architectural competition for the design of a new museum – the Outback Museum of Australia (OMOA) – for Charleville, in south-west Queensland.

Architects are invited to submit expression of interest for a sustainable and resilient building, demonstrating an “understanding of the outback” in the land of the Bidjara People, the project’s proponents said.

The museum is intended to celebrate the diversity of Australia’s outback, unveiling its “mysteries, natural environment and people”, the brief read, along with its “contemporary spirit”.

“OMOA is not so much focusing on history and heritage, but rather on the present and future of the outback, as expressed by immersive and multi-sensory experience installations for the visitors,” the competition website reads.

OMOA is expected to complement Queensland’s existing tourism attractions like the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre in Longreach, the Outback at Isa, the Qantas Founders Museum, and the new Desert Dreaming Centre in Barcaldine.

The museum will be located in the proposed “Top Secret Tourism Precinct” in Charleville, to be located on the site of a former World War II military base that is current home to the Cosmos Centre and Observatory.

VIEW GALLERY “Top Secret Tourism Precinct”, which is the new tourism precinct of Charleville, on the site of a former World War II military base and current home to the Cosmos Centre and Observatory. Image: Courtesy of the Shire of Murweh.

The landscape on the site is characterised by expansive flat plains, red dirt soils and desert vegetation, and this competition offers an opportunity to create a new architectural landmark on virgin soil.

The shire has specified the design should target a 5-Star NABERS rating and allow for flexible spaces that respond to the region’s changing needs. “OMOA must become a living platform, increasing dialogue and exchanges through accessible and convivial public spaces,” it said.

The museum design must include an entrance hall with a reception and cloakroom; a commercial space for catering and souvenirs; around 300 square metres of flexible exhibition space; engagement and research spaces; and external landscaping and pathways connecting to parking and outdoor attractions. A more detailed list of key requirements is available on the OMOA competition website.

The competition jury includes Queensland government architect Leah Lang, UQ School of Architecture director of Indigenous engagement Carroll Go-Sam, architect Greg Burgess, landscape architect Lisa Mercer and jury chair Gordon Holden who was foundation head of Architecture at Griffith University.

Murweh Shire expects the museum will become an outback landmark that embraces the region’s evolution and harnesses the local conditions to maximise operational efficiency. The competition jury comprises seven professionals with expertise including architecture, landscape architecture, museology, Indigenous design and culture, urban design and planning.

The construction budget for OMOA is estimated at $6.5 million with a building footprint of 700 square metres.

The design competition was launched on 17 August. Deadline for registration is 20 September and cutoff for submission is 22 September. Winners will be announced 29 September, where ecognition will be awarded for first, second and third place, with prizes between $40,000 and $10,000. The winner will also be employed by Murweh Shire to realise their successful design.

Click here to enter.

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