Australia House

Set in the ‘snow country’ of Niigata Prefecture Japan, Architecture AND has completed a gallery, studio and atelier, creating a setting for production and exhibition of work by Australian artists in collaboration with local community. The building replaces a previous structure which collapsed in a powerful aftershock on March 12, 2011.

Project team:
Andrew Burns, Casey Bryant

Visitors to Australia House, revealing Brook Andrew's work 'Mountain Home - dhirrayn ngurang'.

An intersection of art and community

Brook Andrew’s work ‘Mountain Home – dhirrayn ngurang’ is permanently installed within the space, elaborating the architectural composition and weaving story and local community into the building fabric.

The structure presents differently from each approach.

A precise form within the valley.

The entrance reveals a honey coloured interior. The daikoku-bashira (king post) beyond obscures the source of light at the end of the space.

The design synthesises Japanese and Australian architectural traditions, incorporating elements of both the Australian Georgian farmhouse and the Japanese Minka. A steeply pitched roof rises towards the ‘daikoku-bashira’, symbolically functioning as the support of the structure and becoming a charged element within the gallery space. Perception of the building alternates between the familiar presence of a rural dwelling and that of an art object. The interiors form a large ‘perception device’, heightening views of the surrounding landscape and creating opportunities for art installation. The dynamic triangular form creates a long dimension and widening perspective within compact spaces.

Verandah posts resonate with the surrounding forest.

Architecture to frame landscape.

Designed to resist extreme earthquake and snow-loading conditions, the new building stands as a symbol of healing and transformation in this distinctive region of Japan.

Strong winds from Siberia cross the Japan Sea, capturing moisture and creating snowfall in Niigata.

Brook Andrew's artwork 'Mountain Home - dhirrayn ngurang'. The artist created a poem with the local community. The neon kanji characters are backwards, and therefore can only be ready in the mirror. When viewing the mirror, the viewer sees the landscape and reads themselves into the place and the landscape.

Layering of art and landscape.

The building has a hybrid function. In addition to functioning as a gallery and artmaking space, it serves as an emergency shelter for future earthquake events and a community centre for use by the local Urada village.

Community meeting.

The proposal received first place in international design competition. Jury chair Tadao Ando commented: ‘It is difficult to form a triangle. However, it could create interesting architecture since it is difficult. I find the approach to the house attractive and 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.’