Ngununggula, the Southern Highlands Regional Art Gallery at Retford Park is completed and open to the public.
Sustainably repurposing the historically significant Old Dairy into a state-of-the-art gallery space, has been a challenging and rewarding journey for RCC.
Delivery of Ngununggula
After initial funding and proposed heritage site was secured, RCC was asked to assist with managing DA and National Trust approvals, reclassification of land applications, cost planning, engaging consultants running detailed design programme and managing the procurement process for Design and Construct subcontractors.
Acting as a development partner RCC worked with the Southern Highlands Regional Art Gallery and TZG Architecture designs to plan and manage the design and construction of Ngununggula.
- Repurposing the existing heritage Vet Clinic into a 500sqm café and heritage Dairy building into an international museum grade gallery space which provides complete flexibility for the operators.
- Construction of new ancillary building to house education administrative functions including public amenities, gift shop and offices, as well as an outdoor collaborative learning and event space.
- Construction of new carpark and public road which provides access to the gallery and caters for event buses.
- Extensive landscaping works including heritage significant landscaping which involves repurposing trees into hard landscaping items such as furniture and wheel stops.
- Installation and connection of all major services (gas, water, electricity) as there was limited capacity to the existing authority services to heritage buildings
“Ngununggula is truly a visionary venture, built upon the aspirations of many, and I am excited to work together with everyone to help achieve something of real importance, of impact, and meaning to the community.”
Megan Monte – Ngununggula’s Inaugural Director
The project was managed in line with National Heritage Listing guidelines and included an early handover of the Vet Clinic building to allow for the Café fit out, with the overall project completed to open to the local community in October 2021.
All works to the existing Vet Clinic and Dairy buildings were designed and constructed as temporary with no major or permanent changes to the structures.
RCC employed a ‘Box in Box’ style solution to project challenges, meaning the Dairy building’s historic shell remains, with a new inner shell constructed to house the gallery and honour its heritage.
- Sections of the existing heritage structure remain exposed internally in order to honour the historic fabric of the building; these portions of the building are treated from the exterior to protect the internal space from the elements and ensure it meets requirements.
- New humidity and climate-controlled space delivered within the heritage building
- Mechanical plant designed to provide the gallery with the flexibility to host all exhibitions – spaces need to meet humidity control certification standards required to meet museum standard lending requirements and host various desired exhibitions.
- Air and moisture leakage to the existing fabric of the building required treatment, to a level that worked for the design and is reversible to ensure the heritage aspects are protected.
- Relocated 7 tonne of plant equipment to service the gallery spaces to the upper level of the Dairy to maximise gallery floor space
- To accommodate the flexibility required by a gallery space to house any exhibition and events, RCC had to design and build a bespoke structure to house fully adjustable lighting and AV fixtures. This enables the gallery to accommodate any collection or installation (from still artwork and photography exhibitions to interactive performances) and meets the requirement for the construction to be reversible and not alter the fabric of the heritage structure.
The history of the site
RCC respectfully acknowledges the Gundungurra people as custodians of the land on which Ngununggula now operates.
Ngununggula, means “belonging” in the traditional language of the Gundungurra First Nation People.
The Retford Park site was originally built in the 1880s. In 1964, James Fairfax AC bought the agricultural property and transformed it into an estate, later gifting the historic home and its gardens to the National Trust NSW.
This venture is the collaborative vision of many, and we’re honoured to have played a role in creating this cultural destination and delivering the first regional art gallery in the Southern Highlands of NSW.
To learn more about the Gallery and their upcoming exhibitions visit: https://ngununggula.com/