Fender Katsalidis Architects


Museum of Old and New Art



From nowhere to Pharos, Siloam's journey

When Mona Pharos opened in 2017, it hosted a grand tunnel to nowhere. Mona hadn’t yet established any plans for the destinationless tunnel, it ended simply with a string of metal letters reading “To Be Continued”. It wasn’t until a year later that it was decided exactly what would be continued. There was realised potential that the tunnel could provide access to the Pharos Wing in times that other parts of the gallery were closed and so, Siloam was born.



The Siloam Tunnel traverses from the museum’s underground galleries up into the Pharos Wing, guiding guests along a series of different exhibitions. It displays Oliver Beer’s Mona Confessional (a giant ear) and Chris Townend’s Requiem for Vermin, a sound installation that Mona likes to call the largest multichannel sound-based work in the world. Guests will also be led through Alfredo Jaar’s The Divine Comedy, a journey through hell, purgatory and paradise, alongside a visit to the bones of a Qing dynasty house termed White House, by artist Ali Weiwei.

The aim of the design was to provide a structure that was both economically functional and architecturally engaging. The exhibitions and experience of Mona are characterised by the spaces wherein they exist. Mona is unlike any traditional gallery; raw structural elements are commonly used to create active space that the art can respond to. It was crucial that the structures of Siloam included a precise level of finished design details alongside the cohesive integration of various building services for above and in-ground structures. The successful extension of Mona’s iconic Siloam tunnel would have been impossible without the unusually intense collaboration and coordination of the design team, including the integral application of BIM processes.