The space

The new building will combine original, historically significant, features with new design and materials to be a structure of international architectural merit.

The building

The UNE Boilerhouse is a disused industrial building within the grounds of the University of New England in Armidale, NSW, Australia. It is our vision that it will be transformed into the Boilerhouse Discovery Space, a play-based learning centre, regional art and performance space, cafe and cultural destination. It will be a special place where children, parents, families and visitors to northern NSW can come along and enjoy playing, exploring, learning and spending time together.

The Boilerhouse Discovery Space will be designed with a STEAMpunk theme to recapture its history and create an exciting, inspiring and educational meeting place in the New England region.

The site will include highly integrated landscaping and design that will make a significant contribution to the surrounding campus and community, and demonstrate the best practices of engineering, fabrication, construction and servicing.

The Boilerhouse will showcase outstanding environmental performance and an expected 5-star Greenstar rating (or equivalent). Staff will be able to actively monitor and adjust the environmental features of the building in order to appreciate their impacts on the indoor and outdoor environments.

Through UNE Discovery, Australia’s first regional university will ignite fires of curiosity, fuelling the confidence of each new generation of regional children to meet the challenges of the future. Below are a series of photographs taken by Terry Cooke from inside the Boilerhouse prior to the remediation process commencing, click to enlarge and open the image gallery.


During remediation, we retained and captured the historical significance, stories and potential of the structure. Thousands of pieces have been retained and will be re-purposed to create an early childhood Discovery Space which will introduce young learners into the world of knowledge, ideas and problem solving through innovation. It has rich potential to use the historical narrative of coal-fired heat production, through to innovative renewables of the future, both in its design and intention in education.

In order to both fully realise the historical significance of the UNE Boilerhouse structure, and enable the Discovery Space to use this narrative it is important to retain the legibility, atmosphere and character of the Boilerhouse by keeping elements of the original fit-out and equipment where clean up and retention is cost effective. The Discovery Space will keep the industrial history and introduce a STEAM-punk design. STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) is perfectly aligned with the design, the historical narrative and the educational aspects of the initiative.

UNE has established an in-house multi-disciplinary team including educators, archaeologists and museum curators to:

• Document the Boilerhouse and make recommendations on the retention of elements of the interior fit-out and machinery while taking account of the new uses;
• Invite artists and sculptors to create unique art pieces from Boilerhouse items and artefacts;
• Collect and curate an archive of oral histories, and;
• Produce a book that tells the history of the Boilerhouse.

To make the Boilerhouse Discovery Space a reality, please support us with a donation. No amount is too big or too small. Thank you.