Home > Australian, Design, Ideas > Flash of genius at Lightning Ridge

Flash of genius at Lightning Ridge

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The initial plans for the Lightning Ridge Opal and Fossil Centre have been revealed and they show a building that promises to be as unique and remarkable one of its main architects, Glenn Murcutt. Murcutt is known around the world for his style and creation of a modern Australian vernacular architecture. However the fossil and opal centre may prove to be one of his grandest civic building. The concept is unique and has many sustainable architectural features to its credit.

Architects Glenn Murcutt and Wendy Lewin have produced a very unconventional concept for the museum, beginning with their decision to place the building underground. It will be 2 stories deep with the roof at ground level. The building is also going to be extremely green, with several environmentally friendly features.

The roof will be covered in solar panels collecting enough energy to run the centre and allow it to work independently of the main power grid. It will also collect rain water, and store it in tanks on the lower level to provide the centre some of the coldest and freshest water in town.

The architects have also come up with a novel and cheap way to tackle the infamous Lightning Ridge heat by designing a natural ventilation system using air pressure to draw in air without the need for expensive electric air conditioners. The system takes inspiration from Middle Eastern architecture and from the techniques developed by local miners to ventilate underground mines.

The plans still have not been finalised, so construction may not start for another 2 years but I’m sure there many of us keen to see the final product. This is a landmark architectural feat for the town of Lightning Ridge and is certain to attract tourism and international attention.

Via Ridge News

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Categories: Australian, Design, Ideas
  1. January 27, 2006 at 5:09 pm

    This is a really interesting development. It seems like far too many museum architects have been so concerned with making a big visual impact that issues like the the control of temperature and humidity (so important in conserving objects) becomes an afterthought. Can’t wait to see what eventuates!

  2. January 27, 2006 at 11:33 pm

    I’m looking forward to it as well! Perhaps there have been some lessons learnt through the mistakes of others. Traditionally museums have been either housed in buildings that were previously built for other purposes and readapted as landmarks (sometimes failed, sometimes not) of an era or otherwise as extensions to these buildings. This often presents a range of unexpected complications whether it be with air conditioning, lighting levels, circulation space, function space etc. The list grows as the way museums function changes from more traditional to less traditional, from state or Federal funded to more self-funded hence increasing the levels of venue hire. I really hope the Lightning Ridge Centre is able to benefit from what has passed before. It certainly has the opportunity to implement all the sustainable features that many of our institutions lack.

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