Dezeen Magazine

Australia House Gallery and Studio by Andrew Burns

Australian architect Andrew Burns has completed a pointy gallery and studio for artists-in-residence in Japan to replace one that was destroyed during the major earthquake of last year (+ slideshow).

Australia House Gallery and Studio by Andrew Burns

The first Australia House was created in 2009 inside a 100-year-old farmhouse in Niigata Prefecture to provide a place where Australian artists could engage with Japanese communities in the production and exhibition of their work.

Australia House Gallery and Studio by Andrew Burns

Following the earthquake, a competition was launched to design a replacement that would be completed in time for the fifth Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale taking place in the region over the summer.

Australia House Gallery and Studio by Andrew Burns

Burns' design for the new Australia House Gallery and Studio is a two-storey triangular structure with a charred wood exterior and a steep pointed roof.

Australia House Gallery and Studio by Andrew Burns

The gallery is located in a double-height space on the ground floor and is overlooked from the living quarters on the floor above.

Australia House Gallery and Studio by Andrew Burns

Above artwork: Mountain home - dhirrayn ngurang by Brook Andrew

A strong timber frame increases the stability of the building, so that it can be used as a refuge during any future natural disasters.

Australia House Gallery and Studio by Andrew Burns

Above artwork: Mountain home - dhirrayn ngurang by Brook Andrew

We've also featured a series of artists’ studios on the picturesque Fogo Island in Canada - see them here.

Australia House Gallery and Studio by Andrew Burns

See more stories about studios for artists »

Australia House Gallery and Studio by Andrew Burns

Photography is by Brett Boardman.

Here's some text from Andrew Burns:

New Australia House Gallery & Studio Opens in Niigata Prefecture, Japan

Andrew Burns’ new Australia House gallery & studio project has opened to wide acclaim on 28 July 2012 at the start of the 5th Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale. This is one of the world's largest international art festivals, held every three years in the Echigo-Tsumari region, encompassing Tokamachi City and Tsunan Town in Niigata Prefecture.

Australia House Gallery and Studio by Andrew Burns

Australia House will be a focus for the special & continuing dialogue between the peoples of Australia and Japan. Its design takes into consideration environmental sustainability and natural disaster-prevention and reflects a merging of Japanese and Australian culture. The building includes galleries and residential space for Australian artists to stay, work and exhibit and will allow collaborative projects between Japanese and Australians.

The new building replaces the original Australia House which collapsed soon after a powerful aftershock on 12 March 2011.

Burns’ design proposal for Australia House was selected unanimously from among 154 international entries in an international design competition by judges Professor Tom Heneghan, Fram Kitagawa, General Director of the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale and Tadao Ando, Jury chair and Pritzker Prize winner. The design reflects the Triennale’s theme of “Human Beings are part of Nature”. Other entries included Brit Andresen, Sou Fujimoto, Peter Stutchbury with Janet Laurence, Sean Godsell, John Wardle.

Australia House Gallery and Studio by Andrew Burns

‘This building extends our focus as a practice on developing innovative, contemporary, socially engaged processes that go beyond the everyday to explore how we relate to our world, and build communities,” said Andrew Burns.

“I am particularly in the cross-over between culture, art and design, and what that says about who we are today. I see enormous potential to take these ideas and further develop them in an international context,” he added.

Artist Brook Andrew was selected as the Australian artist to present in the Echigo-Tsumari Triennale this year, leading to an exciting and rare collaboration between architect and artist during the final resolution of the building design.

The Australia House project is supported by the Tokamachi City Government, International Culture Appreciation and Interchange Society, Inc., the Australia-Japan Foundation, and the Australian Embassy Tokyo.

Andrew Burns Architect collaborated with accomplished Japanese architects Souhei Imamura of Atelier Imamu and Sotaro Yamamoto, Atelier Sotaro Yamamoto for the delivery of the project.

Australia House Gallery and Studio by Andrew Burns

About the design of Australia House

‘It has been an extraordinary privilege to design this important cross-cultural centre, and to be part of the Echigo-Tsumari Triennale, one of the leading visual arts festivals in the world,“ says Burns.

‘Architecture is not simply about shelter, or building, or fashion, or the person who designed it – architecture fundamentally shapes the way we live, how we experience the world, and our place within it.”

Australia House - literally – physically manipulates the way the visitor connects with the landscape, using large screens and windows. Its triangular form obviates the traditional four walls concept, and blurs the lines between artwork and gallery space.

Australia House Gallery and Studio by Andrew Burns

Site plan - click above for larger image

‘My hope is that this humble wooden building, part farmhouse, part gallery, and part site specific artwork, gives each person who enters it the opportunity to glimpse the world around him or her, and him/herself within it, a in new way, ‘ Andrew Burns said.

Oneʼs perception of the building alternates between the dynamic appearance of an art object and the familiar presence of a rural dwelling. The roof rises steeply to the daikoku-bashira, which becomes a charged element within the gallery space. The triangular form creates a long dimension and widening perspective within compact space. The internal spaces are calibrated to amplify the experience of landscape.

Australia House Gallery and Studio by Andrew Burns

Ground floor plan

The building provides opportunities to alter the physical experience of place and time by shifting panels and walls, against the background of a landscape and its dramatic changes over the four seasons. This is a deep rural landscape which changes throughout the year - from intense heat and green in the summer months, to up to 3 metres of snow in the winter.

The appointment of Melbourne-based artist Brook Andrew has resulted in a close collaboration on the final aspects of design. ‘Brook’s interpretation of the architectural design has uncovered further possibilities for the project, “ says Burns. “

‘Throughout, we have sought to establish a dialogue between the visitor, the building, the artwork and its site, so that each person takes away from it a different experience."

Australia House Gallery and Studio by Andrew Burns

First floor plan

Judges comment:

Here is what Tadao Ando, Chair of the judging panel for the Australian House competition, said in September 2011:

'It is difficult to form a triangle. However, that difficulty can create interesting architecture. I find the approach to this house attractive and the 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.'