Kings Park Education Centre - photographing it four years on

The Kings Park Education Centre in Kings Park Botanical Gardens, Perth Western Australia, marks the fourth project within the park for architects Donaldson and Warn - projects that range from a treetop walkway on stilettoes to a subterranean dugout, and a few in between.

The Education Centre is buried into a modest slope. This boring down into the ground is accentuated by a journey along an elongated walkway carving its way down with a few twists and turns from the carpark to arrive at a small plaza which looks outward to native bushland.

Immediately off this plaza is an open plan atelier space which features continuous full height glazing. Predominately used by school groups for learning about native flora and fauna the direct visual connection between learning space and subject is pivotal in nurturing student engagement. On it’s opening the building looked somewhat arkward having not yet had the time to properly clothe itself, as can be seen here.

Architecture is a slow game and requires a lot of faith from all involved. Having been completed mid 2013 the Centre has sat within the landscape for four years now. Over that time the surrounding landscape has matured and begun to envelope the Centre in a symbiotic way, and is now starting to exist as the architects had envisioned.

I was compelled to photograph this building, not only because I have a soft spot for architecture that carves down and gets under the skin (I ended up designing two subterranean projects when in uni, and was told I would not be allowed to do a third!), but as a reflection on the slow time of architecture and how architectural photography exists alongside that.

There is that ever-present desire to get that latest project photographed while its brand new and fresh, to get it into the portfolio and capitalise on its success. Then there is the more nostalgic desire to revisit projects from yesteryear - the successes of previous generations of architects which have not yet met with the wrecking ball (or sometimes because that meeting is supremely imminent) but then there is that in-between time, where the architecture just humbly exists, doing what it’s supposed to be doing for it’s users. In a project like the Kings Park Education Centre, with the architecture and the landscape constantly evolving and enriching the experience, I would argue that this in-between time is the most important and most worthy time for celebration.

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