Waltzing Matilda Centre

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  • 2019

  • Architectural
    Commercial and Residential

Designed By:

  • Cox Architecture

Commissioned By:

Winton Shire Council

Designed In:

Australia

Rising like a phoenix from the ashes of the original Waltzing Matilda Centre, the design is an exuberant celebration of the famous ballad. Using metaphors of an ancient landscape, the striking forms and crafted, tactile materiality draw visitors into its cool, gorge-like interiors, an immersive sequence of towering, fluid spaces.


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  • CHALLENGE
  • SOLUTION
  • IMPACT
  • MORE
  • The brief was to house Winton’s extensive collection of historical artefacts, memorabilia and collateral pertaining to the song, it’s authors and the region. The design creates maximum effect in visitor experience by carefully crafting space and materials. The $13Million budget was used sparingly, a task made challenging by the constraints of a remote site. Accommodated within is a dedicated exhibition space, reading room, spectacular arrival space, gallery, retail outlet, tourist information hub and café. These functions are draped in a soft enfilade of forms around an internal courtyard, from where visitors can explore outdoor displays.

  • There's a dedicated exhibition space, reading room, arrival space, gallery, retail outlet, tourist information hub-café. These are draped in soft enfilade forms around an internal courtyard, where visitors can explore. The café, foyer and retail address the main street. Internalised exhibit spaces are cocooned deep inside where tall, bounding walls and apertures have fluid edges, a metaphorical geology eroded by the passing millennia. The design adopts pared-back materiality. Bush-hammered and polished concrete, inky black-stained ply, patinated rusted plate steel, are used throughout the public spaces. This sparing use of authentic, robust materials is an honest approach to sustainability design.

  • The interior experience is crafted into a sequence of memorable moments. There are experiential and sensory moments, such as upon arrival: the heavily textured cliff-like foyer walls peel away to reveal a metaphorical dry river bed floor, where smooth opals are embedded in polished concrete. There are unexpected moments of delight: where delicate custom-made polished brass pendant lights are discovered, their smooth organic fluidity reflecting local billabongs, their brass skins perforated in a binary abstraction of the Waltzing Matilda score. Such fine-scale references and fragility is starkly contrasted against the rough-hewn textured concrete walls, accentuating the inherent beauty of both.

  • Powerful materiality is paramount in evoking memory and meaning. The plasticity of body- coloured and heavily textured concrete was chosen to echo the worn and fissured forms of the local geology. Rusted plate steel was used to capture the burnt and burnished colourings of the local rock. The foyer’s singular evocative gold-sheathed skylight, set amidst the ‘sky’ of contrasting dark stained ply draws the visitor’s gaze upward, recalling the radiant beauty of the sunrises and sunsets that crown the outback skies, a sight so fondly recalled by travellers.