House Museum

Fermoy House

David Roche’s home, Fermoy House, on Melbourne Street, North Adelaide, together with the new, adjoining gallery building, constitute the exceptional art institution known as The David Roche Foundation and make the collection accessible to the public.

The magnificent pieces contained in the collection, particularly those from past centuries, are presented in an opulent manner, reminiscent of how David lived in Fermoy House. By contrast, the museum’s exhibition spaces are an opportunity to experience aspects of his collection through thematic displays.

Architect’s Statement

Any building to house David Roche’s collection needed to encompass what was clearly a very personal journey. In that context, by housing the collection within the former residence, Fermoy House and a new purpose-designed museum on-site, David’s vision to continue the tradition of a great ‘House Museum’ can be fulfilled.

The German neoclassical architecture of Karl Friedrich Schinkel was a favourite of David Roche. The rigour and proportion of Schinkel, his approach to classical planning as embodied in his works such as Glienicke Palace or Charlottenhof Palace, and the importance of his buildings’ relationship to landscape and courtyard is equally relevant as the classical order or the neoclassic style of many of his buildings.

This classical rigour permeates throughout the new physical additions to Fermoy House. It has also been used to order the galleries and set a ‘Classical Context’ for sculptural pieces in the Great Foyer fronting Melbourne Street, via a stripped internal Classical facade. This provides a contextual balance for the ‘folly’ in the lobby, a reconstruction of a pavilion that formally resided as a backdrop to the pool at the rear of Fermoy House and was inspired by Schinkel’s Pomona Temple facade, which remained David’s favourite building.

The visitor enters between the former Residence and the new Museum, into a light filled contemporary lobby. Fermoy House remains in much the same state as when David Roche was in residence, displaying elements of his collection in the context of his lifestyle. In contrast, the new Museum is the antithesis of this with curated displays in a stylised context within a totally black envelope. Appreciating the collection is enhanced by the surprise and delight that is achieved by the simple ordering of space, managing of vistas, and subtle and persuasive nature of controlled light.

Celebrated designer, Victor Papenek, noted that ‘the only important thing about design is how it relates to people’ and The David Roche Foundation House Museum is designed to inspire and illuminate our own relationship to beauty and art through David Roche’s life-time of collecting.

Williams Burton Leopardi – Architects, Adelaide, 2015

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