STEEL: art design architecture




Established 1997, Sydney, New South Wales

As one of Australia’s largest architectural practices, BVN is widely acknowledged for award-winning design across a broad and diverse portfolio in Australia and overseas. With a 90 year history and an international reputation for design leadership and innovation, the practice’s architectural work ranges from civic and institutional projects to office and residential design, tourism projects, industrial developments, master planning and urban design.

Located in a part of the garden between a threatened and rare remnant section of Cumberland Plain Woodland and the garden’s nursery that propagates species (including the famous Wollemi Pine), the Australian PlantBank, 2014, boasts two wings built at an acute angle to each other they embrace and reflect the woodland in its polished steel surface.

Elevated six metres from the road level, the entrance to the building is reached via an indirect ramped journey. Passing through a dark steel mirrored-roofed tunnel under the administration wing of the terrestrial concrete base, one exits out into a sun lit wedge-shaped courtyard.

The courtyard creates a luminal zone that mediates the boundary between the natural world and the man-made. Within the courtyard a series of angled garden beds scissor their way off into the surrounding landscape. 360 Degrees Landscape Architects, the lead landscape architects on the project, describe how the beds act ‘as an abstracted representation of the woodland association. Original plans were to plant woodland species in the courtyard however due to fire restrictions this was not possible.