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04 Journal
5th
July
S
Ashley Dennis

The Rocky Hill Memorial Museum extension in Goulburn was the recipient of the coveted Blacket Prize for Architecture at the NSW AIA Awards on the 2nd of June 2021.

Named after architect Edmund Blacket, the award is the highest honour for projects situated in country New South Wales that best promote design excellence in a regional context.

The iconic Rocky Hill War Memorial Tower opened in 1925 as a lasting tribute to the men and women of Goulburn who served during World War 1. Designed by renowned local Architects, E.C. Manfred and sons, the tower and hill is a well-known representation of Goulburn and a significant landmark to the local community. The Rocky Hill landscape was seen as reminiscent of the rugged terrain of ANZAC cove and decided upon as a suitable location for the Memorial Tower.

At the foothill to the Memorial Tower, the new Museum extension looks to continue the legacy of the tower as a physical and material interpretation of the unique Rocky Hill site character, conforming to the hill in a contemporary, yet sympathetic way.

The footprint of the new Museum also replicates the scale and simple, cruciform structure of the original Memorial Tower Base.

The building features a new exhibition space designed to accommodate the expanding collection of locally acquired Australian war artefacts. The contemporary structure, completed in 2020, complements and strengthens the identity of the adjacent refurbished caretaker’s cottage (Manfred and Sons, 1935) which also serves as Museum space and has its own local significance.

The design incorporates bronze mirrored cladding elements to reflect the unique surrounding landscape whilst signifying the precinct as a place of reflection, while the textured concrete structure is a modern interpretation of the memorial tower and it’s substrate.

The new building location minimises any further damage to an iconic landscape, working on the sections of Country disturbed by existing infrastructure and historic site excavation for raw materials during the construction of the Memorial Tower.

Upgrades have been designed to enhance the civic reading of the site without compromising the ability to connect with the dedicated Museum volunteers and their baked goods in an unceremonious environment.

Blurring the lines between the front of house and back of house spaces and incorporating low-tech curtain divisions between spaces, volunteers are able to move freely between two wings of the Museum experience or undertake archiving and conversation within the Museum environment.

A simple material palette and interior form takes cues from and interprets an Australian Memorial vernacular to provide a minimalist backdrop, bringing prominence to the collection of artefacts and information. Subtle undulations of the bronze facade panels are reminiscent of the ANZAC rising sun motif. The mirrored finish to these panels brings a golden shimmer to the building at the going down of the sun and in the morning. This undulation carries through to the interior spaces, where exhibition walls provide rhythm and relief between the dominant exposed concrete blade walls.

The combination of concrete and bronze finishes also continues an architectural tradition that adorns many of our most significant Memorial buildings and structures. The work of Rayner Hoff and his art deco sculptural detailing is one such example of this tradition which has had an obvious influence on the building form and materiality.

The Crone team and our collaborators are extremely proud of what has been achieved and the result reinforces the power of holistic visioning towards integrated urban, architectural and interior design.

The project also strengthens an evolving portfolio of public building projects for Crone which is helping to define an ever-evolving design approach within the practice across all scales and typologies. Our Civic projects are all unique, site-specific design outcomes united through an integrated architecture + landscape approach.

The Rocky Hill Memorial Museum also received a commendation in the NSW AIA Public buildings Award category.

Thank you to our team of collaborators who made the project possible.

Architecture, Urban Design and Interior Design: Crone – Ashley Dennis, Snigdha Udatha, Niall Durney, Raymond Blake, Franco Diana
Client/Collaborator: Goulburn Mulwaree Council and Pejar Lands Council
Builder: VanMal Group
Landscape Design: Urbis
Multidisciplinary Engineering: JN
BCA/Access: CityPlan

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