Juanita Nielsen Community Centre by Neeson Murcutt Architects in association with City of Sydney
Heritage: National Award
Australian Institute of Architects
This engaging community facility has a strong presence, occupying a freestanding former warehouse building constructed in 1888. The building was associated with the shipping trade and local industry and was also home to the Woolloomooloo Free Kindergarten in the early twentieth century. The stuccoed Victorian Regency facade has been repaired to reveal its original detailing, with striped awnings added over the windows to lighten the imposing classicism of the original building and connect its interior to the public footpath. Interventions to the raw brick sawtoothed rear facade are restrained to reflect its backstreet character.
Throughout the interiors the original fabric is revealed and celebrated in its raw state, with inventive and sympathetic interventions created where needed, including a new roof and coloured concrete floor. The original six-bay layout of the building remains in structural load-bearing brickwork walls with blind arches, many of which have been opened up.
This significant building has been given licence to tell its own stories. External interventions are measured and appropriate and the interior has been sensitively transformed into a lively facility for the community. The new work honours the fabric and reveals stories of the past, ensuring a life for the building into the future.