2014 Inception Award | Mitchell Tran

The Museum of History and Identity By Mitchell Tran

The proposed Museum of History and Identity seeks to reinvigorate the history exhibition while also enriching its contents with themes of identity. The narration of history through a collection of personal stories of change, struggle and achievements, will build upon the current Museum’s contents which revolve around the eighteenth century Voyage of La Perouse. However, by providing a level platform for the voices of La Perouse’s various ethnic communities, the proposed Museum explores the complex interwoven nature of its history from a variety of perspectives.

The notion of ‘identity’ and its constituents are investigated, enabling the viewer to access a deeper understanding of the local community, its visitors, and ultimately, of the self. Drawing the connection between themes of ‘history’ and ‘identity’ and the synergy produced between them responds to the La Perouse Museum and Headland Trust’s aim to “enhance the historical and cultural significance of the site.”

Drawn from an understanding of the tensions between community groups and various stakeholders, the design celebrates the diversity that comes with individuality, as well as the intrinsic characteristics that unite us as members of the human race. Delicate threads and cables create a dialogue with the existing architecture, creating ethereal planes which aim to dissolve the divisions between people and spaces, while simultaneously challenging the notion of materiality and boundaries between interior architecture and installation art. This anatomy-inspired approach becomes a symbolic manifestation of Randwick City Council’s wish to “actively promote the principles of multiculturalism”, progressive in its dealings with human interaction, as well as the realm of interior design.

A pulsating red floorlight, the ‘bloodline’, runs through the building’s plan and connects people and spaces along its circuit. Inspired by the unbroken loop of Anzac Parade and interconnectedness of the cardiovascular system, the light ensures that visitors come into contact at various parts on their journey and become part of a cohesive narrative, irrespective of their navigational choices. This seeks to realise the community’s vision of autonomy and unity.

Prompted by the studies of depth and texture evident in the human skeleton, the atmosphere of the spaces illustrates the dynamics between social interactions, solitude and their influences on people (as individuals, group and community members, and global citizens). Public spaces are generously illuminated, providing visitors with opportunities to interact while increasing awareness of the presence of others. Transition into these relaxed spaces instigates dialogue between visitors.

Spaces which encourage active engagement serve as a point of contrast to public spaces, utilising ambient lighting as a means of establishing a contemplative environment and placing emphasis on the sentimental objects on display. This invites visitors to self- reflect on their own identities and socio-cultural value systems, as the design facilitates a personalised experience shaped by individual interpretation. Transition into these sombre spaces provokes introspection.

The addition of a second floor provides an abundance of space for community held events, captialising on the panoramic view surrounding the cable station and emphasising the importance of relationships within the community as well as the site’s global identity. Furthermore, this proposal reflects the Museum of History and Identity’s diplomatic approach towards the community through the exhibition of a multifaceted narrative of history, embracing ideas of both individual and collective, the consolidation of current ties and forging of new relationships as a way into the future.