Museum of Military Engineering

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Laing O’Rourke, on behalf of Department of Defence
January 2015
Full Architectural Services


The new Museum is a vital educative, training and interpretive centre that celebrates and tells the story of the Army’s engineers. The use of concrete, steel, timber and gabion walls deliberately pay homage to the materials used by engineering corps during war and
peace keeping periods.

Displaying items for the Australian Army and Royal Australian Engineers the Museum contains exhibition spaces, retail, administrative areas, specialist restoration work areas, theatrette, maintenance workshops and storage facilities.

The Museum is a key building in the “cultural, heritage and spiritual” precinct of the new Holsworthy Barracks development. The building is adjacent the historic Illawarra Road which contributes to the heritage narrative of the site.

The building’s scale cleverly responds to complex functional brief requirements of huge vehicle and machinery exhibits whilst sympathetic to the neighbouring chapel building. Strategically the design embraced the natural site topography enabling the building to expand internally in volume to meet the exhibits complex brief to be curated and changed with maximum flexibility. Gabion walls cross the external landscape and pass through the building interior reinforcing the natural site contours and delineating the exhibition halls varying floor levels. The spotted gum timber façade at entry strategically signifies the Museum as a public building and differentiates itself from other barracks buildings.

The scale of exhibits vary enormously from small precious objects to trucks requiring large clear structural spans. Vehicles regularly move for exhibits and maintenance purposes requiring vehicle movement access throughout the exhibition platforms. The large internal volume and viewing platforms enables visitors to experience exhibits close up and in their entirety. The western storage zone filled with containers and racks of vehicles, boats and motors blurs the boundaries of what is exhibit and storage.

The benefit to the client is their diverse collection is accommodated within a building that itself forms part of the narrative and enables many points of engagement for the public and the ADF members. The Army can now tell their story from colonial era to present day in a cohesive and contemporary manner.

The building formed part of the greater Moorebank Units Relocation project.