With the World Architecture Festival (WAF) now in full swing, a number of surprise projects are gaining global attention after becoming major finalists.
Perhaps no project has been more surprising that Australia’s own Australian Age of Dinosaurs (AAOD) Museum Reception Centre located in Western Queensland.
The centre was designed by the architectural firm Cox Rayner, who are not unused to acclaim but were nonetheless surprised by the critical acclaim given the project’s small scale and rural location.
“We are absolutely thrilled that this building has made it through to the final judging,” says principal architect Michael Rayner. “It is only a small building but it has held its own with cathedrals and museums from around the world that have cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build.”
With a $2.5 million dollar price tag – almost half of which was funded by the federal government – the project’s budget was by its competition in the WAF’s ‘Culture’ category, a slate that includesTasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) and the Open Air Cinema in Gorky Park, Russia.
However small the project’s overall budget was, it made up for its lack of scale through community spirit and architectural integrity. According to Rayner, the building’s rustic and almost organic form was largely inspired by its function as a dinosaur museum.
“The idea was really to see how we could almost most make a building that looked like the landscape had kind of folded up, and perhaps could be seen as almost prehistoric itself,” says Rayner.
Rural contextualization was taken to new level as the building seems to emerge from the surrounding red dirt, with the overall façade marked by a rock-like texture. A balance was struck, however, with the addition of some more industrial features and the harshness of its form, which allow the AAOD Museum Reception Centre to stand out on the horizon.
“It’s just a spectacular site; you go across endless plains without relief and then suddenly there is this rising mesa in front of you,” says Rayner. “The whole place is just magic, one of the great pieces of Australian landscape I’ve ever been to.”
This little Australian building represents some of the best that Australian architecture has to offer, serving as a testament to community encouragement and contextualised design.