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Nº 17 Danks
Australian Museum Crystal Hall
Neeson Murcutt Architects / Joseph
Grech Architects
A calming oasis within the hustle of Waterloo,
No.17 Danks’ interplay of buildings and public
space offers a successful example of mixed
use development. The architect has seriously
considered the challenge of public domain in
this project, rather than “just space left over
between buildings”, and it shows. The result is
a wonderful, light-filled piazza that would have
typically been secured as private communal
space for residents, but is instead open for
people to walk through on their way through
the area. The project provides a pedestrian link
that connects Phillip and Danks Street through
the heart of the site and includes a generous
public plaza enlivened by ground level
shops and restaurants. The materials used,
particularly the use of recycled brick, evokes
the heritage of the site. But the development
also sits comfortably with its post-industrial
neighbourhood context of showrooms and
new apartments.
Photo: Brett Boardman
After 125 years, Neeson Murcutt has given the
Australian Museum the grand front entrance it
deserves. Using a small footprint, the work has
dramatically improved access to the museum
– both for those with limited mobility, for
parents with prams, and for the general public
for which this building previously presented
an imposing and impermeable façade. Named
the ‘Crystal Hall’ in recognition of its glass
pleated façade – a feature designed to echo
the crystallised minerals within the museum,
and which rotate to manage direct heat load
in summer – the new glass entry floats above
the footpath, a sharp contrast with the heavy,
historic sandstone. The new entrance is carbon
neutral and designed with minimal energy
cost. Removing an old substation created
space for a marshaling area for students, the
redevelopment also provides a new exhibition
and function space. And the new entry has
markedly improved the museum’s visibility
by enhancing its prominent urban setting
along William Street at the gateway to the
City Centre.
Photo: Brett Boardman