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Outback Mus of Aus (OMA) design shortlist

The Adhaeream design features a central museum exhibition “seed pod”, with its shape and surrounding timber glulam column structure inspired by the seeds of the Mulga tree. Image: Adhaeream. View Gallery.

Isla Sutherland, Shortlist revealed for Australian outback museum, ArchitectureAu, 3 October 2022

Three designs have been shortlisted for the Outback Museum of Australia (OMOA) in Charleville, south-west Queensland.

In August, the Griffith University and Murweh Shire launched an international competition for the design of a new museum, specifying a sustainable and resilient building that demonstrated an “understanding of the outback” in the land of the Bidjara people.

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”.

The competition received 16 submissions, from which the jury has selected three contending designs for the future museum. Selected visions have been designed by Adhaeream, Hassell and March Studio.


March Studio’s design features a large fanned circular roof above eight rammed earth exhibition and activity spaces. Image: March Studio. View Gallery.

March Studio’s design features a large circular roof that hovers above the site, providing shade from the harsh outback sun, “like a large contemporary verandah,” the architects said. The fanned roof shelters eight rammed earth pavilions, each housing a different exhibit or activity, and each clustered around a central native garden that serves as the heart of the museum.

The centre of the native garden provides space for a circular meeting area for smoking ceremonies and yarning circles. The roof is constructed from fanned sheets of Aramax that double as rainfall catchments around the central native garden.

The Mulga Ring by Hassell is a passive and open structure organized in a circular geometry. Image: Hassell Architects. View Gallery.

The Mulga Ring design by Hassell builds on an existing clearing, featuring an open museum organised in a ring geometry. The design uses honed concrete floors and skirtings, establishing a “series of thresholds, edges, enclosures and apertures that define territory and frame views and vistas to the landscape and sky”.

A timber frame with structurally glazed low iron glass will create a passive and open structure that incorporates natural ventilation and cooling.

The Adhaeream design features a central museum exhibition “seed pod”, with its shape and surrounding timber glulam column structure inspired by the seeds of the Mulga tree. The central pod is surrounded by support spaces embedded within a structure inspired by the culturally significant Carnarvon Gorge in the Queensland central highlands.

The pod features a skywalk and observation ramp to look out over the natural landscape, in “an instantly recognisable, innovative, timeless and agile showcase for Outback Australia,” the architect said.

Along with the three shortlisted designs, the submissions by Lippmann and Seven Mile also received commendations. The winning design will now be announced on 6 October.

First place will receive a prize of $40,000 and will be engaged to design the OMOA. Second place will receive $20,000 and third $10,000.

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

See also: Competition watchdog takes architect to court for alleged ‘cartel conduct’

Council of Australasian Museum Directors c/o Mr Brian Oldman, South Australian Museum PO Box 234 Adelaide, South Australia 5001 Australia, © CAMD 2022
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