Project at a glance
The Gunnery is a three-storey State Heritage building on Sydney Harbour in Woolloomooloo. It's close to the Art Gallery of NSW, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and galleries and colleges in East Sydney and Paddington. Built around 1900, it has had many lives including as a bulk store for the Sydney Morning Herald, a gunnery and trainee centre during World War 2. It was also a squat in the 1980s and the home of Artspace since 1993.
Once complete, the Gunnery will be a contemporary art facility with expanded exhibition spaces, increased artist studios, multi-use spaces for education and digital connectivity, and a greater connection to the local neighbourhood and Sydney Harbour Foreshore. The upgrade will also improve accessibility and meet the needs of artists and the community at this important hub.
Who is it for
The Gunnery building forms part of the cultural ribbon which links several arts and cultural institutions in Sydney. The Gunnery has been home to Artspace for 30 years.
Artspace began in 1983 as a gallery run by artists. Its focus was on showing new and experimental art in an important way. In 1992, Artspace moved to The Gunnery in response to the increase in demand by artists.
Artspace is one of Australia's leading interdisciplinary spaces for the production and presentation of contemporary art. Through exhibitions, performances, artist studios and public programs, Artspace is where artists of all generations test their new ideas and shape public conversation. Committed to experimentation, collaboration and advocacy, Artspace's mission is to enhance our culture through a deeper engagement with contemporary art.
The current refurbishment of The Gunnery Building aims to revitalise this important public building, improve its visibility and connection to the public, and allows Artspace to continue their important work in the contemporary art field locally, nationally, and globally. By increasing the buildings visibility and connection to the public domain, the project seeks to further engage with the cultural ribbon allowing Artspace to grow and have a broader outreach, and to fully use this important public asset.
The design removes layers of non-original, unsympathetic, and redundant building elements to bring the building back to a more original state. The building entrance will be reoriented to open onto Forbes Street Plaza and accessibility will be improved throughout the refurbished building.
The Gunnery transformation project includes:
- Restoration and upgrade of all three floors and enhanced public access
- Larger exhibition galleries on the ground floor and additional project spaces throughout the building
- New facilities on the first floor for learning, outreach, digital broadcast, performances, and public programs
- Three new artist studios, increasing the number of studios from seven to ten
- Improved back-of-house facilities including new offices, a catering kitchen and a production workshop
- Renewed critical infrastructure, including integrated services and a new roof.
- Interior upgrades to fittings, furniture, and equipment
- Fit -out for the new 250m² multipurpose space, archive and learning studio
- Development of a landmarking and signage strategy to activate the building’s exterior.
The result of the transformation project will be a building that is welcoming, accessible, flexible, and supports Artspace to facilitate a range of artistic and community activities into the future.
Who is involved
The Gunnery project involves a collaboration between various stakeholders, including:
- Create NSW, who provided funding, guidance and other support
- NSW Public Works, as the project Delivery Manager
- Dunn and Hillum, project Architects
- FDC, as the Managing Contractor.
Works are well advanced with construction scheduled for completion in late 2023.
For more information
For details on the project see Artspace
Pictured: Dunn & Hillam Architects, Architect’s render of The Gunnery 2023.