Powerhouse Castle Hill
Rory Gardiner

Powerhouse Castle Hill

lahznimmo architects as Architects

Powerhouse Castle Hill is a storehouse for the Powerhouse Collection supporting research and conservation. It forms part of the Museum Discovery Centre, operated in partnership with the Australian Museum and the Museums of History New South Wales. The site housed six large storage sheds for the collection, that were reaching capacity. About 95% of the Powerhouse Collection is maintained in storage at any time, most of it at Castle Hill. In advance of the construction of Powerhouse Parramatta, more items were to be moved to Castle Hill, along with staff and ancillary functions such as conservation laboratories. 

photo_credit Rory Gardiner
Rory Gardiner
photo_credit Rory Gardiner
Rory Gardiner
photo_credit Rory Gardiner
Rory Gardiner

In 2018 CreateNSW engaged lahznimmo architects to design a new 9,000 m2 facility for:

•         Storage for the Powerhouse collection and archives

•         Flexibles spaces for education and public programs, workshops, talks,

•         Exhibitions and events.

•         Conservation laboratories and collection work spaces.

•         Photography, digitisation and collection documentation facilities.

•         Work space for 50 staff and visiting researchers.

•         Object and exhibition preparation, packing, quarantine and holding areas.

photo_credit Rory Gardiner
Rory Gardiner
photo_credit Rory Gardiner
Rory Gardiner
photo_credit Rory Gardiner
Rory Gardiner

Referred to as Building J, the new facilities provide an important public facing interface with Showground Road and merges into the broader site campus, including the adjacent TAFE. The new 130 metre long building is aligned north-south, with an east-west accessway separating the storage facilities from the exhibition and staff areas, and opening up pedestrian movements across the site.

photo_credit Rory Gardiner
Rory Gardiner
photo_credit Rory Gardiner
Rory Gardiner
photo_credit Rory Gardiner
Rory Gardiner

The facilities in the building are multifaceted to serve the needs of a variety of user groups including staff, volunteers, education groups, researchers, artists, scientists, industry partners and the general public. It expands the site’s ability to hold public exhibitions, providing a much needed museum facility for the people of Sydney’s northwest; including a 10 metre high flexible exhibition space fronting the main entry.

photo_credit Rory Gardiner
Rory Gardiner
photo_credit Rory Gardiner
Rory Gardiner
photo_credit Rory Gardiner
Rory Gardiner

The collection store is permanently visible within the main entry vestibule, where a 3.5 metre high and 9 metre long frameless glazed opening allows public viewing into the 3000 sqm Very Large Object (VLO) storage area, housing Powerhouse Museum VLO objects such as planes, trains and automobiles.

photo_credit Rory Gardiner
Rory Gardiner
photo_credit Rory Gardiner
Rory Gardiner

The storage facility must maintain a constant temperature band between 200C +/- 20 C and relative humidity of 50 +/- 5% to protect the collection and is essentially designed like a large esky – with reflective aluminium cladding, over thermal insulation protecting precast concrete wall panels on the inside for thermal mass. 

photo_credit Rory Gardiner
Rory Gardiner
photo_credit Rory Gardiner
Rory Gardiner

The material palette throughout is minimal and elemental, with the raw expression of materials on display to showcase their natural properties – including mill finish aluminium, off-form concrete walls and polished concrete floors. The colour palette continues the cool tonal range from white, through greys to black.

photo_credit Rory Gardiner
Rory Gardiner

The corrugated aluminium skin provides a singular utilitarian expression in the tradition of the industrial shed. It sits atop a corrugated precast concrete base that protects the aluminium from on-site vehicle movements. Openings within the aluminium skin are formed with folds in and out that respond to the activities within

photo_credit Rory Gardiner
Rory Gardiner

Electrical use is supplemented with a 100 kW roof mounted PV system. Roof water is collected for grey water uses, including toilet flushing.

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