The Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation
The Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation provides a new facility for two and three dimensional art works conservation to meet the theoretical and practical needs of the CCMC. Critical to the project was engaging the public in the functions of the Grimwade Centre that was previous hidden from public view.
The centre includes flexible undergraduate teaching laboratories, postgraduate research laboratories, specialist storage spaces, exhibition entry, staff administration offices and meeting rooms. The building provides specific spatial requirements for the teaching and practice of the conservation processes including the integration of specialised services equipment. The transparency of the facility ensures engagement between the functions of theory, research and practice that are all part of the Centre. Internal spaces express new services to maximise light and a sense of height within the restrictions of an existing structure. The expression of services also highlights the technical processing undertaken as part of the conservation process. The lineal orientation of workspace and lighting allows for the function of the space while maximising natural light and engagement adjoining spaces and the exterior.
The new ground floor facade provides a playful and engaging intervention to Swanston St across from the Ian Potter Museum of Art, highlighting a new pedestrian entry point, promoting the work of this unique organisation and increasing its public profile. The building references the prominent Melbourne sculpture ‘Vault’ now located near ACCA providing a mirrored bookend at the northern end of Swanston St. The façade screen and matte/polished entry signage infer the notion of conservation through the process of revealing layers, change and instability. The façade screening while providing a critical environmental response the west façade is also an abstract response to 'living under the canopy', protecting from western sun and achieving dappled light into the interior work spaces.
Sustainability is integral to the project with specific temperature and humidity requirements for conservation work. The existing predominately west façade provides the main source of day light and engagement with the public but also significant solar gain issues for a space with such specific demands on the internal environment. Selective views allow natural light and windows for the public to engage with the Centre. They linear workspaces maximize this source of natural light while the window loops provide work spaces for task requiring a natural light spectrum such as colour matching.
Perforated screening allowed additional linear windows with dappled light reflecting the canopy shade provided by existing trees. Retaining the established Elm trees was critical to the client and providing additional sun protection during the summer months. Maximizing the re-use of the existing infrastructure was also seen as critical to the projects sustainability. An existing raised floor from the buildings previous use as a data center was re-used to provide plenum air supply and uniform environmental conditions to all spaces.
The final result is a facility that reflects the client’s specific brief for internal environment while maximizing natural light and transparency with minimal use of resources.