ARM has transplanted SCA’s distinctive culture from its original Rozelle site to the heritage Old Teachers’ College building on the University of Sydney’s Camperdown campus.
Like any thriving arts institution, the Sydney College of the Arts is a place of immersion. It’s a place where students work intensively, day and night, seven days a week.
It’s a community of visual and digital artists learning, experimenting, sharing and exhibiting.
SCA’s new home, the 1921 Old Teachers’ College building, was designed by architect George McRae, who also designed Sydney’s Queen Victoria Building and St James Station.
We refitted it to accommodate new and old usages, which involved designing highly customised studios and exhibition spaces.
We have repurposed the interiors for specific visual art forms including sculpture, print media, screen arts, photomedia, jewellery making, ceramics and painting.
“Art schools in a city feed the cultural life into cities, they breathe air into it,”
—Andrew Lavery, Director, Sydney College of the Arts
The only external intervention involves the hot workshop for glassworks. It is surrounded by a highly visible screen, which people can look through from outside.
It’s inspired by Moire screens, Reticello Glass, Etienne-Jules Marey motion, CMYK printing, and the figure in art.
The screen features an image of a body lying down, subtly visible as you move around it.
It’s not attempting to become part of the heritage fabric; we think of it as something entirely other.
Nevertheless, it’s fixed minimally onto the brickwork, not to the original sandstone, so it could theoretically be removed to return the building to its original heritage appearance.
We have also converted the old gymnasium into a gallery. Interior heritage considerations included minimising new openings, selecting finishes sensitively, and introducing display walls for hanging artworks rather than using the existing exposed brickwork.