Bundanon is a centre for creative arts and education. Its purpose is to foster an appreciation for and understanding of landscape and art, and to support research and celebrate art and ideas.
Gifted to the Australian people in 1993 by Arthur and Yvonne Boyd the Bundanon property is located on 1,000 hectares of bush and parkland overlooking the Shoalhaven River, near Nowra. It is on the land of the Wodi Wodi and Yuin peoples.
The concept design developed a suite of buildings and landscapes that integrate the many aspects of the site’s history (Indigenous, Pastoral, The Boyds’, Education Trust) to work as a rich ensemble of distinct historic and cultural periods in the site’s evolution. It responds to the landscape as both subject and site of Arthur Boyd’s work and draws upon key interests evident in his paintings: the dynamic landscapes of fire and flood, the contrast and interplay between natural & cultural, indigenous and exotic landscapes as fundamental inspiration to new works.
The impact of climate change is acutely felt at Bundanon. Only two years ago, during one of Australia’s most horrendous of summers, bushfires tore through the forest surrounding this site. Months later flooding occurred. So the new works, designed for resistance and resilience could not be more timely in response to this dynamic landscape shaped by fire and flood.
The new works comprise of two new buildings - the Art Museum embedded in the landscape and The Bridge, a Creative Learning Centre with accommodation, 160 meters long suspended above a gully as flood bridge.
This core visitor program is collocated adjacent to the historic Boyd cluster to achieve a centralised and single heart. New and existing buildings are united by a Forecourt and Arrival Hall.
The project is of interest for several reasons.
Response to climate change - it incorporates radical solutions to a changing climate with a net zero energy target and will be defendable against fire and flood. For millenia fire and flood have shaped this landscape - as recently as two years ago tore through the adjacent forest -so the building and landscape design approach was necessarily driven by resilience, resistance and ecological repair.
Architectural legacy - as companion to Glenn Murcutt’s (with Wendy Lewin & Reg Lark) Boyd Education Centre completed in 1999.
Cultural legacy - its consolidation of one of Australia’s most renown artistic dynasties, The Boyd Family which includes architect Robin Boyd.
Sustainable Design in buildings & landscape
The new buildings are sited within a slither of available land between the threat of flood from the Shoalhaven river to the east, and threat of bushfire, from the national park to the west.
The design addresses how buildings and landscapes can be both resilient and resistant. Functional areas are sited and arranged according to their climatic needs.
The Art Museum (with Collection Store) is resistant to fire. It is subterranean. Precious artworks are housed and exhibited in an underground building, which protects the works from diverse climate conditions and offers thermal stability in the form of the reinstated hill, reducing the demand on mechanical systems.
The Bridge is resilient and treated as flood infrastructure, like the trestle bridges common to flood landscapes, so that the architecture supports rather than impedes the overland flow and floodwaters below it.
A 165-metre-long by a 9-metre-wide structure that at one end abuts the Art Museum within the sloping hillside, it continues along to bridge an existing gully, and contains 34 bedrooms, break out and dining spaces and a public cafe.
An appreciation for climate and its vicissitudes is fundamental to the visitor experience. The thermal stability of the subterranean museum, the feeling of coolth from being within the hill is counterpointed by The Bridge which, in the spirit of Boyd’s practice of painting en plein air, is where climate variation is central to one’s (the visitor’s) experience.
“The design concept both preserves and transforms, is equal parts subtle and dramatic. Renown aspects of the current setting are maintained and their presence enhanced with an array of new and compelling visitor experiences.” It integrates architecture and landscape within the broader continuum of the site’s ecology and environmental systems.
Architects (Kerstin Thompson Architects);
Landscape architects (Wraight Associates, NZ with Craig Burton); Sustainable design engineers (Atelier Ten);
Structural engineers (Irwin Consult later WSP).
The design collaboration, across these core disciplines from the very beginning, enabled a significant shift in thinking about how we respond to
a significant landscape: from a purely picturesque or visual understanding of landscape to an ecological one: that takes account of the natural and extended environmental systems – vegetation, water, fire, flood, flora/fauna. It places the site’s ecology at the center of the design.