National Art School, Darlinghurst, Australia

Free at last. Transforming a prison into an
art school.

Refurbishments of existing building always bring challenges but rarely in a country as young as Australia do they involve buildings dating back 195 years. That was the case for Pure when it project-managed the design and construction of the prestigious National Art School in the inner-city Sydney suburb of Darlinghurst.
 

The project involved the transformation of the historic building into studios, educational facilities and exhibition spaces.

 

A prison for its first century, soaring sandstone walls abound and some blocks still bear the signatures of their convict creators. Rigorous attention was paid to the building’s history with areas dating from 1820 and eras onward. There’s also a unique steel staircase dating to 1872.

 

Cold winter conditions in the building created challenges for architects, project managers and builders and clever solutions were found using mechanical ventilation and water heating. Environmentally friendly outcomes were also achieved through the use of light, double glazed windows and other strategies.

 

Pure Projects played an integral part in the collaborative development and implementation of these designs with the National Art School. It stands as a project that’s both a beautiful rendition of Sydney’s colonial past, and now a hub of inspiring creative expression.