Bundanon Trust has unveiled the $28.5 million Masterplan design for Arthur Boyd’s iconic Riversdale property in regional New South Wales created by Kerstin Thompson Architects (KTA), the firm appointed in 2016 to design the project.
The masterplan will revitalise the 1100-hectare property near Nowra in NSW that Boyd and his partner Yvonne gifted to the public in 1993.
The plan includes a creative learning centre for school students, a contemporary visitor hub, accommodation and a 380sqm light-filled art gallery – partially buried into the landscape – set to house the Trust’s $37.5 million Arthur Boyd art collection.
Prioritising the existing landscape and its ecology, and responding to the current and future climatic conditions, the design draws on the distinctive Australian native bushland and rural Australia’s flood ‘trestle’ bridges. The new facilities are housed within a new 140-metre-long by 9-metre-wide structure that at one end abuts the art gallery within the sloping hillside, bridging an existing gully.
Central to the design is the subterranean art gallery which will house over 3,800 items, with more than 1300 artworks by Arthur Boyd, plus works by artists including Boyd’s peers Sidney Nolan, Charles Blackman, Brett Whiteley and John Perceval.
Arthur and Yvonne Boyd’s daughter Polly said, “Mum and Dad would love the plans for Riversdale and the way it relates to the landscape and considers the climate. They would be delighted with all the activity and the way Bundanon is being cared for and shared.”
Architect Kerstin Thompson explains, “The design concept both preserves and transforms, is equal parts subtle and dramatic. Renown aspects of the current setting are maintained and their presence enhanced with an array of new and compelling visitor experiences. It integrates architecture and landscape within the broader continuum of the site’s ecology and environmental systems.”
Underpinning the design is an ecological approach aiming for sustainability, with solar energy, waste management systems and all supporting infrastructure.
Bundanon Trust CEO Deborah Ely commented, “Kerstin Thompson and Megan Wraight have developed a design with a rare marriage of landscape and architecture that responds to and amplifies the qualities of the site. The design promises a transformed visitor experience and a building that is both iconic and responsive to site conditions.
The new bridge structure lands near the existing cluster of 19th-century buildings on a level public plaza offering an arrival hall, café and visitor services. The covered extension to the bridge leads to the subterranean contemporary art gallery opening into the hill behind. Through roof highlights, it captures glimpses of the prevailing landscape’s contrasts – between the dark forest and clearings – so that visitors can enjoy the artist’s imaginary Shoalhaven landscapes alongside the actual one surrounding them.
The design incorporates a new creative art facility housing 32 new bedrooms and accompanying bathrooms, teaching spaces, dining and visitor facilities on top of rolling hills and a deep gully.
It also reinforces the significance of the existing cluster of buildings, including the original houses, art studio and the contemporary Boyd Education Centre designed by acclaimed Australian architects Glenn Murcutt, Wendy Lewin and Reg Lark, which remain at the heart of the experience of the site.
The estimated cost for the Riverside project is $28.5 million with funding currently being sought from the Commonwealth and State Governments. The development is anticipated to lead to substantial regional economic benefits including $51 million of spending and 142 jobs during the construction phase, with an additional $10.4 million and 59 jobs to flow into the economy once the site is complete. The Masterplan will increase visitation by more than 100% and secure Bundanon as a leading cultural and tourist attraction in regional Australia, whilst delivering substantial economic benefits to the Shoalhaven region.
The full design team includes Kerstin Thompson Architects, Wraight + Associates with Craig Burton (landscape architecture and ecology), Atelier10 (environmentally sustainable design) and Irwin Consulting (structural and civil engineering).