Cox Architecture has taken out the 2019 Australian Interior Design Award (Public Design) for their incredible work reenvisioning the Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton, Queensland.

Ravaged by fire in 2015, the Waltzing Matilda Centre required a sensitive rebuild by a firm with a close bond to the local community. Enter: Cox Architecture.

After their work on Winton’s award winning Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum, it was obvious they were the perfect team for the job.

Taking inspiration from its surrounds

Understanding the deeply outback Winton landscape and community was integral in ensuring the Centre’s design harmonised with its environment.

Celebrating The Waltzing Matilda Centre  Winner Of The Aida 2019 Public Design Award — External Vertical Min

Photography by Casey Vallance

Constructed with purposefully robust materials such as textured concrete and rusted steel, the Centre aims to reflect its resilient surrounds as well as the communities that inhabit them.

The jury commended the Centre’s clear narrative, despite the many varied ways it’s used — from various community and collection programming, to exhibitions and galleries, retail spaces, etc.

“…the layering of experiences throughout the different spaces is what facilitates the project's storytelling, capturing the spirit of the Centre's namesake song through a variety of volumes and forms that evoke the Australian landscape.” — Jury Citation

The level of attention to detail and careful consideration within the interior spaces is attributed to just how much the Centre embraces and executes the story it is telling.

Celebrating The Waltzing Matilda Centre  Winner Of The Aida 2019 Public Design Award — Roof Min

Photography by Casey Vallance

More than a song

Whilst the Centre represents a vivid vision of the Australian outback and a quintessential Australian song, it is so much more than that.

This project speaks of resilience, strength, and tight community bonds, particularly in the face of tragedy. That day in June 2015 will never be forgotten, but rather celebrated via the new iteration of all that was lost.

“It is...a tribute to the robust and resourceful people that live in this remote and harsh but beautiful landscape…” — Cox Architecture
Celebrating The Waltzing Matilda Centre  Winner Of The Aida 2019 Public Design Award — External Min

Photography by Christopher Frederick Jones

A true public space

Designing public spaces isn’t just about using particular techniques or materials — it’s about the logistics of using design to bring people together, to foster communities, to question the human condition, what we value and what we stand for.

Great public design takes these notions and uses them to formulate a well rounded experience, and the Waltzing Matilda Centre is no exception.

Congratulations to Cox on an exceptional design. A truly deserving winner.

For more information about public spaces of tomorrow, check out our report ‘The Future of Public Design’ here.