Our challenge was to adapt the various spaces for museum and exhibition use, the main one being the Long Room — a traditional customs hall in which transactions took place. There are also the major spaces on the first and second floors. The lower floors, built in massive bluestone, were designed for bonded storage. These we converted for use as a research centre and restaurant.
Major discoveries included the most beautiful complex stone geometric floors long ago concealed beneath layers of linoleum. The Long Room floor had been removed in the 1950s and we were able to replicate it based on fragments of encaustic tile found in floor fill. The new tiles were made at Stoke-on-Trent in the UK.
In the course of the project, the footings of the original customs house were found beneath the existing building and its courtyard. We designed a way for the public to see the location of these, using a lit pavement treatment both in and outside the museum.
Planning and design had to respond to a constantly changing brief, as the project became tangled in the politics of the day. The Hellenic part of the museum was established in acknowledgement of the high proportion of people of Greek descent in Melbourne.
RAIA (Victoria) Architecture Award 1999 : John George Knight Award, with Daryl Jackson Pty Ltd
RAIA (Victoria) Architecture Award 1999 : The Melbourne Prize : commendation, with Daryl Jackson Pty Ltd
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