Thursday, September 26, 2013

The latest addition to the Sydney architecture scene

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
Museum of Contemporary Art by Sam Marshall opened in March 2012. Photo ©Darren Bradley
I was excited to finally see the new Museum of Contemporary Art when I passed through Sydney a couple of weeks ago. It's a beautiful building that works very well, functionally. I quite like the design. Of course, it's easier to appreciate if you don't know the story leading up to it. 

Without question, the best spot in Sydney to have breakfast. I did - twice. The food was very good, too. Photo ©Darren Bradley
It turns out, Jørn Utzon isn't the only major international architect to have been snubbed in Sydney. Back in 1997, the Japanese architecture firm, SANAA, won a the commission to design the new Contemporary Art Museum at Circular Quay on Sydney Harbor, just across the ferry terminal from the famed Opera House. 

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
Photo ©Darren Bradley
She caught me. Photo ©Darren Bradley
A prized location for a prized assignment. Only thing was, turns out there were some restrictions on the existing building and it couldn't be razed. So the city decided to do another contest. Not sure if they informed SANAA of this before holding the other contest. SANAA, needless to say, wasn't pleased. 
Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
Photo ©Darren Bradley

Anyway, I'm sure the building by SANAA was an amazing thing. I love their work and it always seems to be brilliant in a subtle, refined, understated sort of way. I have only been able to find one photo of a maquette, here: 


A bit hard to tell from that. I imagine it probably also had walls, plumbing, and such. But it looks pretty cool. 

Anyway, the project that replaced it was forced to conserve the existing building, and so that meant the new project was relegated to an annex. I do have to say that despite these constraints, Sam Marshall came up with a nice project for this space. 

Photo ©Darren Bradley
It appears that most of the exhibition spaces are actually in the old building, and the new addition is mostly reserved for office space, a learning center, a library, a restaurant, and a few other things. 

Photo ©Darren Bradley
More to come on Sydney soon... 


Boris said...


Your collection of photos from Australia leaves me speechless. I do not want to embarrass you by flattering too much, but every time your new photo appears on the web, I feel that the bar is raised still higher. And - it is a good thing.

How do you prepare for a trip, if you don’t mind sharing? Do you make a search of new buildings or you just draw on your knowledge and know far in advance what exactly you want to see?


modarchitecture said...

Thank you, Boris. I sincerely appreciate your comments and it's nice to hear the feedback (positive or negative). I'm never really sure who's reading the blog - if anyone!

I hesitate to respond to your question - only because I don't want it to come across as being flip or showing off, because I take it seriously. But to be honest, I did almost no preparation before this trip. In fact, I didn't even know where I'd be staying in Melbourne until about ten minutes before leaving for the airport in San Diego (everything was booked and I hadn't had time to find a place).

In the case of Melbourne, I just asked a friend who is from there if he had any suggestions, and he gave me a couple, like RMIT. But I had already read about most of them in Arch Daily or other publications.

I'd already been to Adelaide a couple of times, but only learned about SAHMRI when seeing it while driving back to my hotel one evening on my way home from the office. The other buildings were just things I noticed while walking around.

I've also visited Sydney before, but everything there was either stuff I already knew about from the architecture press, recommendations from friends who live there, or me just walking around randomly.

Anyway, the short answer is that I don't really have a plan. Most of the time, I just walk around with my camera and photograph whatever strikes my eye, on the fly. I'm not organized enough to do otherwise. And since I'm usually there either with my family walking around or for a work assignment, I don't really have the luxury to plan out itineraries. I only know what I'm going to shoot once I'm there.

Hope that helps. Thanks again!

Boris said...

Thanks, Darren!

You just got another sticker. Your photos bear absolutely no signs of being in a hurry, as it supposed to be in the case of architectural photography. Still, it is a luxury, when one has 3-5 min to consider a framed view and set a tripod. When I walk with family, I try to anticipate the view and be in and out inside 15sec, shooting at 640ASA, hand-held. It works, sometimes...

Have a great weekend!

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