Sunday, February 6, 2011

Glenn Murcutt Riversdale Boyd Education Centre

Thanks to Lindsay organising permission for me to visit, I was able to experience one of Glenn Murcutt's buildings for real. And not just any building, but the infamous Riversdale, about 3 hours south of Sydney. The train ride down there was beautiful as it followed the coast all the way. It was an interesting taxi ride out to Riversdale as we got a bit lost, nearly ending up in Kangaroo Valley (an admittedly quite beautiful detour!). Once there I was given a guided tour by Jim, who told me a lot about how they use the building today. Originally conceived as a education centre for arts as per the wishes of Arthur Boyd, the very famous late artist who lived in this beautiful area. He fought against development, preserving the area for us all to enjoy. It is now also often used for events such as weddings or art based events due to its spectacular location. This has caused some problems regarding storage of art materials during events, and some spaces that were intended to be open spaces for children to spread out in with a framed view for inspiration are now filled with event chairs and tables. The staff and children who use this building for its original purpose are full of enthusiasm for it, so it has only been when the building's use included events that there have been any problems.

I went inside one of the bedrooms which was lovely and cool despite the heat of the day outside. The great hall was also cool and an incredibly inspiring space. I could have spent hours here. Jim said it is a wonderful place to work. There are also very interesting details for added ventilation, small doors and shutters that open so that you can adjust your own environment. Also interesting is its setting, the bush at the rear comes right up to the building, and then the English style lawn to the front down to the river. The protruding screens keep the morning sun from heating up the bedrooms and they also form a division inside the room to allow a four bed room to become two two bed rooms. Another Glenn Murcutt trick is to not allow the roof to actually touch the walls. This prevents heat from the roof seeping into the walls and also allows air flow beneath. Large timber slatted screens in the main hall can be opened up fully to maximise the view during events, but when closed they filter the light and also prevent children from running into the glass.

The main accommodation part of the building with the protruding screens for shade

The entrance to the building is strong and sculptural

The fantastic view from the main hall is very inspiring and Murcutt has captured it perfectly
One of Arthur Boyd's paintings

They collect rainwater and filter it for drinking as well as flushing toilets

The wooden screens add warmth to the corridor

Inside one of the bedrooms, the perfect height to view the river from your bed. There are many shutters and openings inside so that you can adjust the temperature however much you please. Much nicer that flicking the air con on!

I would like a room like this!

The toilets and showers are situated outside the rooms for easy monitoring without intruding on privacy. Even the toilets are pretty, with filtered light through the wooden slats shown here

The amazing view

The rear corridor with views out to the bush behind. Repetition of wood and concrete as well as the bush backdrop, give life to what is essentially a corridor

A spectacular staircase leading out into the bush

Somehow concrete is never boring when Murcutt has designed it

View from the rear of the building with the staircase strongly emphasised

Nice window shutter detail

The main building with the great hall beyond

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