Australian architect Andrew Burns has completed the Australia House, a triangular pavilion in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. The pavilion combines an exhibition space with a studio, and replaces a previous structure which collapsed as a result of an aftershock of the Tohoku earthquake, in 2011.
A joint effort of the Australian Embassy Tokyo, Tokamachi City Government and the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial, the building's design synthesises Japanese and Australian architectural traditions, incorporating elements of both the Australian Georgian farmhouse and the Japanese Minka. Located in a site that can experience 1,5 metres of snow on a typical winter day, the design incorporates a steeply pitched roof, which symbolically functions as the support of the structure, and becomes a charged element within the gallery space. Simultaneously, the building is capable of withstanding massive snow loads and can function as an emergency shelter in the future. The building's triangular shape allow for its perception to alternate between the familiar presence of a rural dwelling and that of an art object.
The pavilion's interiors form what the architect deems a large "perception device", heightening views of the surrounding landscape, while its triangular shape creates interesting and compact interior space configurations. Currently, artist Brook Andrew is displaying the mountain home - dhirrayn ngurang installation, embedded within a wall of the gallery, in a suggestion of new ways to permanently integrate works of art in a gallery space.
The Australia House received first place from a field of 154 entries in an international design competition chaired by Tadao Ando, who commented: "It is difficult to form a triangle. However, it could create interesting architecture since it is difficult. I find the approach to the house attractive and different elements well arranged. The idea of dealing with snow is thoughtful, considering that the site is located in a heavy snowfall region. It would be fantastic if only the triangular roof was visible as the rest of the house is covered with three-metre-high snow."
Andrew Burns: Australia House, art gallery, studio and atelier
Site area: 975,72 square metres
Built area: 106,00 square metres
Materials: concrete foundation, wood, aluminium, glass
Architects: Andrew Burns Architect, assisted by Casey Bryant
Collaborators: Souhei Imamura (Design development / documentation), Atelier Imamu; Sotaro Yamamoto (Construction phase administration), Atelier Sotaro Yamamoto
Artist: Brook Andrew
Structural Engineer: Taro Yokoyama, Low Fat Structure Inc.
Client: Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale, Australian Embassy Tokyo, Tokamachi City Government
Supporters: Australia-Japan Foundation, International Culture Appreciation and Interchange Society
Contractor: Joint venture between Iizuka Constructions and Onojima Constructions