The new space expands the gallery’s scope of activity, and brings a welcome note of creativity and sophistication to William Street.
July 1st, 2015
Busy William Street in Sydney, linking the CBD and the gritty nightclub district of Kings Cross, has always tended to be associated with two things: car showrooms and streetwalkers. Despite its prime location it’s never been of the city’s more salubrious of thoroughfares, in other words and successive governments have paid lip service to the idea of getting the urban planners in to re-imagine it into the smart boulevard it could possibly be – but somehow it’s never happened.
But now, thanks to the transformation of a former retail car showroom into a new home for The Australian Design Centre, and its Object gallery, the Darlinghurst street has a playful and sophisticated new design venue and hub to help lift the precinct’s appeal.
Flexibility was key to the new three-room space designed by Sydney-based Those Architects on a very tight budget.
Director of the centre, Steve Pozel says that the new 520sqm facility – which has relocated from its previous site in nearby Surry Hills – needed to be able to host “a cutting edge design conference one day, and the next, house a group of 40 – 50 children for a workshop.”
Central to the interior is a plywood “terrace” – which can be used for display or as a seating platform – and which cleverly unifies and links the gallery spaces on two different levels. Facing William Street are the gallery spaces, with the offices at the rear of the building.
Project architects Ben Mitchell and Simon Addinall have created a supple space with “open, transparent volumes that could be opened up and closed down to serve a range of public uses – gallery, front of house, meeting, presentations and conference spaces,” explains Mitchell. The more private office and studio area housing the Australian Design Centre meanwhile faces the quieter Barnett Lane.
Photography: Brett Boardman
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“I’m interested in the invisibility of the design scripts that are hidden within objects we use every day that channel certain stereotypes,” says Central St Martins course leader Betti Marenko. Looking around there are plenty of design objects embedded with gender stereotypes – from the ubiquitous fail of Bic for Her pens to Nika Zupanc’s “feminine” gold chair for Moooi.