Museum of Pacific Arts
The Museum of Pacific Arts is located on Cockatoo Island , a UNESCO world heritage site, within Sydney harbour. The site has a long and rich history serving multiple uses, first as a convict penal establishment from 1839 to 1869 and then subsequently as a naval shipyard operational until 1991. As such the island contains a palimpsest of heritage buildings from distinct periods. The challenge was to design a museum of substantial floor area, while respecting sensitive context.
Ultimately, the architectural strategy of situating the new intervention into the existing industrial shed was adopted. The finial design retains the existing heritage skin of the industrial shed. A new glass entrance façade is constructed while also inserting new glass chambers within the existing form. These glass interventions act as metaphorical lens altering visitor’s preconception of pacific culture. the vertical glass insertions also filter sunlight into the vast former industrial space, illuminating the museum collection with a soft glow.
To emphasise the importance of intervention, subtle landscape features including reflection pool and forecourt entrance seating area excavated to ground are designed.