Orange Regional Museum
Through a design approach that combines architectural, urban, and landscape strategies, the Orange Regional Museum creates a new public precinct in the heart of Orange.
Af Jennifer McMaster
A regional center around four hours west of Sydney, Orange is a thriving and charming town, with a strong sense of community and a culturally progressive spirit. Crone Partners’ museum is a striking and contemporary addition to this place.
The design approach of the Orange Regional Museum begins with its urban form. The museum is a highly three-dimensional building, which folds, sweeps and tucks itself around its site. This architectural gesture is a result of Crone’s design strategy, which overlays ‘building, landscape, and events.’
Orange Regional Museum occupies a prominent street corner and sits adjacent to several existing cultural buildings, including the local art gallery, civic theatre, and library. Crone’s project admirably stitches these existing public facilities together, orienting the buildings around a new public square.
On approach, the long concrete façade of Orange Regional Museum gives the building great presence, defining a new urban edge. The building is unashamedly contemporary and sits confidently within this heritage town.
Orange Regional Museum is a tapered and tailored piece of architecture. Every edge of the building responds particularly to its context and purpose; the result is deceptively simple. Along one edge, the roof plane sweeps down to provide access to a green roof. This surface rises up from the footpath, providing passers-by with a place to stop, relax, and enjoy city views.
Meanwhile, along another side, the building terraces down in a series of steps. This amphitheater forms another gathering space where events can take place. These nips and tucks create a playful and engaging urban environment where people feel welcomed by the architecture.
The Orange Regional Museum is 1300 square meters in size and includes a visitor information center, café, council offices, and permanent and temporary exhibition spaces. The internal layout of the building is intentionally flexible, with a range of open spaces that can be adjusted to suit the diverse requirements of contemporary exhibitions.
Entry to the building takes place through the new civic plaza, which frames the older buildings on one side, and the new on the other. The dialogue between these buildings reinstates the relevance and significance of the older cultural facilities, giving them new life.
Moving inside, the project is rigorously planned to make the most of its angular geometry. Throughout the project, a reductive material palette of concrete, metal, and glass provides a stark and simple backdrop to the exhibitions and activities housed within.
Sustainability was also a priority for this project. Across the building, concrete is employed to maximize thermal mass and improve heating, cooling and acoustic performance. Likewise, the building form is oriented to shade key public spaces in the heat of summer.
Orange Regional Museum is a bold and compelling cultural building. It elevates this regional center with a complex and dignified piece of architecture and provides this town with a place where it can collect and reflect on its history.