WA Museum Boola Bardip, Perth, Australia


WA Museum Boola Bardip, Perth, Australia

A new larger museum incorporates updated designs for heritage buildings

  • Aurecon’s role: Technical Advisor – structural, civil, geotechnical, facade engineering, building services, fire protection, ICT and audio visual, acoustics, vertical transportation and sustainable design
  • Client: Department of Finance
  • Project team: Western Australian Museum, Hassell + OMA, The Fulcrum Agency, Multiplex

The Western Australia Government is revitalising Perth as an international cultural centre with the development of WA Museum Boola Bardip. The Aboriginal name means 'many stories' in the local Nyoongar language and recognises the significant role of Aboriginal people in Western Australia's shared cultural heritage.

The new Museum building is three times the size of former Museum on the site and includes eight permanent galleries, a 1,000 square metre temporary exhibition gallery, learning studios, vast civic spaces, and a shop and a café.

Aurecon played a critical role in the development and planning of the project as the State Government’s Technical Advisor. This involved developing the technical brief requirements for the design and construction of the Museum. Expertise contributed by Aurecon included structural, civil and geotechnical engineering, building services and fire protection, ICT and audio visual, facade, acoustics, vertical transportation and environmentally sustainable design.

Starting with a clear project vision and objectives to inform the technical brief

WA Museum Boola Bardip covers a site that contains four historic brick structures woven together and revitalised as key features of a major new building.

Aurecon started by establishing a clear project vision and objectives with the State Government. Engagement with stakeholders, from various user groups, informed the technical brief requirements for the project, which included:

  • Indoor environmental conditions that preserve permanent works of art and visiting international exhibitions
  • Security systems to protect artwork and artefacts
  • Well-designed front of house facilities and exhibition space layouts that support occupant comfort
  • Minimal environmental impact
  • Contemporary design integrated with the historic setting

The technical brief considered international best-practices in museum design, while allowing for the local climate and site conditions at the Perth site.

Blending the old with the new

The project included the restoration of each historic building as well as the design and construction of a new building that envelops the existing buildings and integrates them into a holistic experience, tying together the past and the future. The old and new come together at the centre of the Museum to frame an outdoor ‘city room’ – a public meeting place, event space and programme area for the community.

Aurecon assessed the design and construction methods for compliance with the technical brief requirements, throughout each stage of the project.

Specialist advice was provided with regard to material selection and construction methods in keeping with the technical brief requirements.

World-class indoor environmental quality systems

Museum galleries must control the indoor environment to conserve cultural artworks and artefacts. Special temperature and relative humidity conditions are therefore required to host travelling international exhibitions.

This was achieved with mechanical ventilation air-conditioning and lighting systems, security systems, and fire detection and protection controls. Performance objectives for these systems were defined by Aurecon in the technical brief. In addition, the resiliency and redundancy of these systems and controls were predefined for back-up generators and critical systems planning in the case of a power outage.

The outcome is a museum that is now able to house international and highly significant artefacts with its controlled indoor environment quality.

Energy usage is minimised with the incorporation of a centralised energy plant to power these systems across the entire Perth Cultural Centre. The State Government anticipates that the central energy plant will reduce annual energy usage by up to 40 per cent, compared with the option of separate energy supply for each building.

Aurecon provided advice to the project architects and equipment engineers on queries relating to equipment selection and design of the building systems.

A long and productive life

The Museum brings together Western Australia’s cultural, scientific and historical collections into one central location.

It is a civic place for everyone, an interesting mix of heritage and contemporary architecture, that creates a cultural centre in Perth while celebrating the State’s natural landscape, unique history and diverse population.

It has been designed with flexibility and adaptability in mind so that it may have a long and productive life.

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