architecture drawings

What will the next CAW look like?

by | 16 Mar 2022 | NEWS, Blog post

Lifetime CAW member, Dennis Bentley, has been working hard behind the scenes to draft a design for the future needs of the Canberra Art Workshop.  He has drawn up a plan to embrace the requirements of all the various interests.  Dennis is keen to receive feedback from members and to discuss our future requirements.


Just to recap issues outlined in my earlier message:

  • studios will be south(?) facing,
  • M16 supportive of co-location of CAW and ASOC,
  • M16 propose to locate CAW (and presumably ASOC) on 2nd floor of a planned 3 storey building,
  • ACT Govt still undecided whether ceiling height to be 2.7m, or 3.5, (as at 21 Blaxland Cr).

Note: all these issues have a direct bearing on quality/availability of natural light, which explains the order in which they are dealt with.

  1.            ANU Sunpath diagram

South facing, if I have it right, translates to south-west facing window apertures from a NW to SE (45 deg) building orientation that follows the orientation of the heritage structures but is probably also the optimal available natural lighting on Section 49, Kingston. As it is very similar to the orientation at 21 Blaxland,some  lessons can be learnt from the latter.

What the Sunpath diagram shows is that at the sun’s most southerly annual arc, (22 December), the studio will be free of direct sunlight from 9.00am thru to possibly 4.00 pm.

Light from direct visual access to sky is optimal, falling directly on members’ working surfaces. Morning sessions will be particularly appreciative of the elimination of the glare presently experienced. Blinds for management of glare would not be required, except for privacy for life drawing sessions (for which, storey level yet another issue).

So far, so good.

  1. Ceiling heights (currently 3.5m)

These benefits would still be mediated by the ceiling height. Intuitively, the higher the ceiling, the better light penetration to the back of the studio is – that is why current equipment storage primarily located there.

The best data on light quality that I am able to provide is via use of a lighting histogram frequently provided in good quality digital cameras as a table presenting range and quantity of light (think grayscale). But I can only measure this for the present ceiling height – 3.5m.

What the data suggests is, compared with natural outdoor light on the same day which shows a range from partway across the first quartile (darkest) to all of the fourth quartile (brightest), readings from directly under the window aperture to 6m into the studio show a progressive diminution of lighter values and a progressive increase of darker values. These findings are intuitive and are also evident to the trained eye.

If a standard 2.7m ceiling  were to be introduced to, it follows that it can only further diminish light penetration.

  1.            Stepped elevation

The obvious way to counter this problem if we are relegated to the second floor, is resort to supplementation of light via skylights, of which there are a number of options, but they all depend on using a top floor, in some configuration.

A system of stepped elevations with corresponding reduction in floorspace of upper storeys is the only option. This method is used in residential apartment blocks, but costs are an issue plus having to forego living/working space potentially realized, when the size of the building footprint is also critical.

See illustration. By way of example, if individual studios, say of 5×4.5m dimensions per tenant, were allocated to the top floor, only 2 could occupy the same floorspace as our studio, for which occupancy is 13! Clearly, an equity issue is emerging that ACT Arts should be mindful of!


Having said that, I can’t see that the prerogatives currently  exercised by M16 over its tenants are either equitable, sustainable or relevant to future governance once a managerial structure for the KAP is determined.

Not only are there are  number of organizations coming to the Precinct that are not part of M16’s remit, for whom tenancy arrangements will need to be established by an appropriately constituted authority that may not share prerogatives exercised by M16.

If M16 were to be re-constituted as the ‘precinct manager’, which it stands well to win if it plays its cards well and best of luck to them, but it would necessarily have to re-cast its prerogatives in a less parochial way!

It is also foreseeable that new, independent entities will emerge, such as a (1) a real and virtual library facility, (2) a sale point for artist materials, (3) personal  lockers and also (4) the incorporation of shared storage space to eliminate unnecessary duplication. All have yet to be factored into the KAP design brief as far as I am aware.  These may have been raised by M16 or other agencies.

Kingston Art Precinct | Planning

KAP Planning Proposals by Dennis Bentley

Kingston Art Precinct | Planning

KAP Planning Proposals by Dennis Bentley

Kingston Art Precinct | Planning

Kingston Art Precinct | Planning

KAP Planning Proposals by Dennis Bentley

“As a community-based arts organization, the Canberra Art Workshop has grown over many years to incorporate a diversity of interests in the visual arts, both in subject and medium and, logically, more can be expected to emerge.

Providing an amenity in which to practise our art has become an increasingly difficult challenge both in size of the working space, plus convenient and accessible storage for the equipment required to support that diversity of interests. It has become apparent that devising a suitable working space that incorporates the necessary storage can no longer be achieved in a single studio. Two workspaces of differing size, dedicated to particular sets of activities, appear to offer a more effective, economical and affordable amenity.

These arrangements are represented in the attached illustration. Co-location of the studios would be more or less essential to make these arrangements workable. Additionally, it would allow more purpose-built access to natural and artificial light to be devised.

Timesharing (to be negotiated) is the only way to facilitate these arrangements, logically with ASOC. Our respective weekly art groups are sufficiently comparable to make this a practical possibility.

You are invited to study the illustration and provide comments. These should be addressed to Dennis Bentley ( or 01419963836)”

CAW Plans_01