Smart Design Studio - Sydney Architects

Two Canoes

Infrastructure NSW ran a design competition for a new public pavillion at Barangaroo. Our response was to create a beautiful, delicate, crafted structure that balances the practical requirements of the brief with an emotive response: to the history and past cultures of this site. Like a great piece of sculpture, Two Canoes weaves multiple ideas into one concept that is ambiguous, evoking different interpretations from different visitors. We love this combination of art and architecture.

We pay our respects to all Eora fisherwomen and their society. The concept of the pavilion is rooted in the history of canoes, fisherwomen and the innovations of the First Nations Peoples. The canoe was the vessel that allowed movement, fishing and cooking. Similarly, this pavilion is a versatile vessel that encourages gathering, conversation, events and play. It is an opportunity for a truly open and transparent building on Sydney’s harbour that reveals the history of the Eora fisherwomen.

In an area that has an abundance of public space the proposal is for a sustainable lightweight timber pavilion that is open and porous. The design moves beyond its didactic form to be a dynamic building that combines craft, technology and innovation. A minimal structure balances two lightweight canopies moderating the harsh sun, prevailing winds and sheltering the column free spaces below.

Appearing by the harbour as two informally moored canoes, the pluralistic form suggests unity: the relationship between siblings, friends, clans or a mother and daughter. The focus is twofold: one inward, on the atmosphere of the space and the passage of time; the other outward, mediating the place between city and harbour, choreographing views near and far. Moored around a fire pit the intersecting forms define a gathering place for all Sydneysiders to enjoy.



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