Heritage award acknowledges time and space

30 July 2007

A leading Sydney architect and University of Sydney graduate has been awarded the prestigious Greenway Award for Heritage Architecture for her work on one of the University's most significant rooms.

Catherine Lassen was awarded for her conservation work on the Muniment Room, located in the Main Quad and currently home to the Centre for Time. The judges said:

"The conservation of this significant tower room at The University of Sydney restores the original architecture and provides an uplifting, inspiring and light-filled space befitting its purpose - the contemplation of time.

"...Meticulous restoration was combined with contemporary insertions essential for the functionality of the space. Surface mounted services were removed and ingeniously concealed.

"Plaster walls and joinery were restored and various sized timber fillets replaced in the dais flooring. Requirements for improved lighting and conditioned air were treated in an innovative manner that continued a dialogue with the original space.

"...New lighting was concealed behind a hung glass ceiling with panels held by a fine metal structure echoing the neo-gothic detail of the bay window.

"A new timber seat occupies the bay window. A horizontal glass bookcase resembling a crystalline beam is minimally supported by eight fine steel pins in the sandstone wall. Flush glass whiteboards allow practicality without destroying the scale or colour of the plaster walls.

"The furniture, cast in dark tan coloured resin, provides a lustre consistent with traditional lacquered timber. Each piece is a single cast using a technology not previously attempted in Australia.

"These new elements appear both old and extremely new. The approach is consistent with the Burra Charter, 'do as much as is necessary and as little as possible'. New work is clearly identified in an innovative subtle reworking of themes of the existing room.'

Catherine Lassen

Catherine is a lecturer in architecture and a practising architect based in Surry Hills. She graduated from Sydney University in 1991, and was awarded a Master of Architecture from Harvard University in 1995.

In 1996 she worked for Rem Koolhaas at OMA in Rotterdam and then in Boston, returning to Australia in 2000.She has taught architectural design at the University of Sydney in the BArch and Masters Programs.

Contact: Kath Kenny

Phone: 02 9351 2261 or 0434 606 100