The first Australia House art gallery and studio had only been open for a couple of years when last year's earthquake in Japan destroyed it, but the Australian Embassy in Tokyo, the Tokamachi City Government and the Echigo-Tsumari Triennale immediately launched a competition for a new design. The idea was to ensure that the replacement gallery, which nurtures relationships between Australian and Japanese artists, would be open in time for the start of the region's most popular art gathering - the Echigo-Tsumari Triennale. Andrew Burns won the competition with this striking timber structure, which opened to enormous acclaim on 28 July, 2012.
Featuring an unconventional triangular design and a new, sturdy frame that should make this Australia House more resilient than the last (built in an old farmhouse), the double story gallery doubles as a studio for one lucky artist-in-residence. Burns opted for a soaring pitched roof and natural materials, all of which reinforce the notion that humans and nature are inseparable.
Inside the gallery – a contemporary space that is also deeply-rooted to its rural surroundings – the landscape dominates. And that’s a good thing. Most of the art pieces are displayed on the lower floor while the living quarters are disguised up above. Well-lit, cozy, and sustainably-built, the new Australia House is a beautiful testament to both the superiority of nature and the resilience of humanity.
Images by Brett Boardman