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Curious Practice takes structured landscape one step further

The Newcastle-based studio, Curious Practice is the latest firm to produce a provoking pavilion for the Powerhouse Architecture Commission. Named, Cadeau, it cleverly incorporates the surrounding environment into its design.

Curious Practice takes structured landscape one step further

Cadeau by Curios Practice, photography by Zan Wimberley

The Powerhouse Architecture Commission has held its third project, selecting commissions that offer challenging and unique designs. The commissioned pieces inspire visitors and add architectural beauty to the museum. 

Chosen for its unique approach to exploring the space around the Powerhouse, Curious Practice, which is based out of Newcastle, was the Powerhouse’s pick.

Originating as an architecture firm specialising in sharp, environmentally inspired residential designs, Curious has expanded into multidisciplinary fields. For this commission, Curious Practice collaborated with design and engineering firm Arup and Australian Sustainable Hardwoods (ASH), to produce the pavilion, entitled Cadeau. 

Cadeau by Curios Practice at the PowerhouseI Museum, photography by Zan Wimberley.

Responding to the commission brief Curious Practice has designed a modular, movable pavilion that can be experienced alone or together. The design itself embodies what Curious Practice represents: inspired by the built and natural Australian environment, Cadeau is a bold synergy between the two. 

In line with the Powerhouse’s sustainability goals, the design brief specified that the materials used in the construction of Cadeau were to be reused or recycled after the commission’s display on the Goods Line. 

After disassembly, Cadeau’s materials are to be donated to out(fit), an award-winning community engagement organisation that operates out of the School of Architecture and Built Environment at the University of Newcastle. 

Cadeau by Curious Practice, photography by Zan Wimberley

Senior Curator of Design and Architecture at the Powerhouse, Keinton Butler, says, “The commission is an opportunity for us to engage the public with architecture but also an opportunity for us to work with an emerging architectural practice to explore some of the ideas around research, an investigation into architecture, and embark on a collaboration.

“Cadeau is not a ‘stand-alone’ building or singular gesture. The design concept draws upon the idea of cross-pollination, which enables different genetic species to symbiotically exist and gain a mutual benefit, improving their resistance to disease and changes in the environment.”

Curious Practice co-founder, Warren Haasnoot, says of the design, “Our focus was on the atmosphere in the practice of architecture and how this can enhance the user experience. Having typically come from designing residential architecture, we wanted to take a different approach in terms of fitting into a more public context. We aimed to take some of those similar values and approaches to our residential architecture and apply that in a more public way.”

Warren Hassnoot, Curious Practice Co-Founder.
Warren Haasnoot, Curious Practice co-founder.

“Cadeau takes domestic architectural elements and plays with their scale; exaggerating and fusing components to create a new, shared narrative between site, installation and those who visit it. This process of distortion produces an ensemble of habitable, ready-made ‘furniture’ used to define the central courtyard gathering and meeting place,” Haasnoot says along with co-founder Greg Lee.

From left to right, Greg Lee and Warren Hassnoot, founders and directors of Curious Practice, photography curtesy of Curious Practice.
From left to right, Greg Lee and Warren Hassnoot, founders and directors of Curious Practice, photography curtesy of Curious Practice.

Originally commissioned in 2020, the pandemic created some challenges, but the adaptability of the Powerhouse and Curious outstripped these.

“The pandemic created an understanding that flexibility and adaptability would be essential,” says Keinton. “The structure can support individual engagement, creating intimate spaces for contemplation. But Cadeau can also support large groups, and if we host a musical performance or a symposium, it can be the setting for large scale public activations.”

Haasnoot adds, “The approach to the movement of light, movement of wind, the importance of connecting back to a place and environment. It was about letting the user understand and make them stop to appreciate their place within their environment and the enjoyment of those things as well.”

As an emerging practice Curious has been gifted with a growing number of projects. Being a practice that captures the evolution of the landscape and times, the calibre of work in their pipeline is sure to be exciting.

Cadeau by Curious Practice, photography by Zan Wimberley

Curious Practice
curiouspractice.com

Powerhouse
maasmusuem.com

Photography
Zan Wimberley

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