Construction is underway on a new National Herbarium of NSW facility in Western Sydney.
Currently housed in the Robert Brown Building at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, the herbarium will be relocated to the new facility to protect and preserve its collection of 1.4 million plant specimens.
The facility is designed by Architectus with 1999 Gold Medallist Richard Leplastrier and architect and landscape architect Craig Burton. Inspired by the seed pod of the Waratah – the floral emblem of NSW – the building will be made up of six multi-layered vaults that will protect the plants from bushfires and extreme weather events.
The vaults will have a sterile internal box and an external wall of rammed earth. A winged fly-roof will hover over the structure to further protect the vaults from heat and provide shading to the external terraces. The large roof will be used for solar power generation and rain water collection to irrigate the plant specimens.
Architectus principal Luke Johnson said: “It’s a privilege to work with the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust on this environmentally significant project. Plants are central to our planet’s habitability and sustainability, and the research and visitor interaction with the new Herbarium’s extensive plant collection will facilitate positive environmental and societal outcomes for generations to come.”
The new building will be co-located with the Australian Plank Bank, designed by BVN Donovan Hill (now BVN) at Mount Annan. The NSW government committed $60 million for a herbarium in Western Sydney as part of Western Sydney City Deal in 2018.
The new herbarium will form part of the Australian Institute of Botanical Science, which will bring together science facilities, research and living collections at botanic gardens across Sydney.
“In this challenging era of climate change, the new Institute and Herbarium will put NSW and Australia at the forefront of plant conservation and management for generations to come,” said Denise Ora, chief executive of Botanic Gardens Greater Sydney. “And this is just the beginning of super-charging NSW as a botanical science powerhouse and protecting plant life.”
The new herbarium is expected to be completed by late 2021.