ARTSPACE Gallery - Innovative Community Architecture

From an initially simple brief – to rework the entry to ARTSPACE gallery on the wharf at Sydney’s Woolloomooloo – architects Dunn & Hillam, together with the NSW Government Architect, ARTSPACE and ARTS NSW – have considered and rationalised the way the gallery spaces work as a whole, creating a significantly more expansive, inclusive and cohesive visitor experience.

Our objective was to give the building a deep clean, to create a clear, logical structure for the space, enabling it to function optimally for a range of types of artwork and uses. We wanted to increase the permeability from the street, and draw people into the space to engage with the art.  At the same time we wanted to make a space that was flexible and adaptable, for a wide range of art forms, reflecting the vision of Executive Director Alexie Glass-Kantor and her team. 

We knew from extensive surveys that this building is seen as much too dark, foreboding, and too complex to move around in. Our objective was to bring new light and energy into the building – carving out new space for ARTSPACE to breathe, and work.

Rather than being constrained by those factors, we saw this an opportunity to rethink the space in its entirety. We opened out the reception and greeting area for the gallery to the street, drawing light and people in. We inserted a flexible project space to the right of the street entrance, which creates a transitional point of engagement for visitors and brings life to the street presence of the gallery.

As a result of changing the entrance, we were able to rethink and reconfigure the entire series of ground floor gallery spaces. We removed walls, painted the ceiling dark (contrary to usual art world practice), designed a new reception desk and furniture for the level two residencies, and designed new signage throughout the building. The signage integrates Born and Raised reworking of the Artspace logo and visualisation.  

Photography Brett Boardman