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    Six shortlisted for controversial Riversdale design competition

    Nathan Johnson

    Six Australian architecture firms will compete in a design competition for new learning and residential facilities at the Riversdale property and Bundanon homestead in Shaolhaven, NSW.

    Virginia Kerridge Architect, Kerstin Thompson Architects, Room 11, Peter Elliot Architecture + Urban Design, Jackson Clements Burrows Architects and Chenchow Little Architects have been shortlisted by the property’s management to design a new learning centre, visitor hub, residential quarters and gallery for the 1100-hectare rural property, gifted to the Australian people by Australian artists, Arthur and Yvonne Boyd in 1993.

    The winning architect will design a new Boyd Art Gallery to house more than 3,800 items including 1300 artworks by Arthur Boyd, as well as a creative learning centre that will provide world class facilities for adults, school students and artists.

    The new facilities are expected to increase visitation by 100 per cent to the property, which currently sits at around 40,000 annually, some of which is owed to those visiting the award-winning Boyd Education Centre situated at the Riversdale section of the property, designed by acclaimed Australian architects Glenn Murcutt, Wendy Lewin and Reg Lark.

    The shortlist were selected by a jury chaired by John Denton, Director of Denton Corker Marshall, and including Bundanon Trust Chair Shane Simpson AM, landscape architect and newly appointed Dean of Design, Architecture and Building at UTS, Professor Elizabeth Mossop and Brian Zulaikha, Director of Tonkin Zulaikha Greer, all very reputable and capable judges. But there were concerns and question raised by some in the design community as to why Murcutt, Lewin and Lark were not referenced or consulted on for the new project considering their history and understanding of the site and its former owners.

    In an open letter to Architecture Media back in June 2016, Australian architects Brit Anderson, Richard Leplastrier, Peter Stutchbury and Lindsay Johnston expressed their aversion to the Riversdale expansion plans, questioning their respect for the spirit of Arthur and Yvonne Boyd and their credibility considering they don't recognise the work of Murcutt, Lewin and Lark.

    Read some exceprts below:

    “It is a matter of respect...” 

    “Respect for Arthur and Yvonne Boyd and their gift to the people of Australia, respect for the tranquil landscape of Riversdale and the setting on the banks of the Shoalhaven River, and respect for architects Glenn Murcutt, Wendy Lewin and Reg Lark.”

    “How can it be that proposals by the Bundanon Trust to expand Murcutt, Lewin and Lark’s Boyd Education Centre can be pursued, a masterplan prepared and an architectural competition announced, with no reference to Glenn Murcutt, Wendy Lewin or Reg Lark?”

    “Arthur Boyd treasured the tranquillity of Riversdale, hated even the intrusion of occasional speedboats on the river, and is said to have asked that the place “be used, but not used up” – as an educational retreat. Do these current proposals respect the spirit of Arthur and Yvonne Boyd and their Deed of Gift to the people of Australia?” 

    Virginia Kerridge Architect, Kerstin Thompson Architects, Room 11, Peter Elliot Architecture + Urban Design, Jackson Clements Burrows Architects and Chenchow Little Architects are all award winning architecture firms with immense residential and public building portfolios.

    The winning design will be announced in December 2016. 

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