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Adelaide Contemporary design proposals unveiled

Adelaide Contemporary design proposals unveiled


Arts South Australia has revealed the six concept designs devised for a new landmark cultural destination, Adelaide Contemporary, which is intended to revitalise the former Royal Adelaide Hospital site.

The gallery will be situated on Adelaide’s North Terrace boulevard and will combine exhibition, research and education spaces with a public sculpture park and community meeting place.

“This is one of the most important sites in Adelaide, and a landmark project that could set the city’s compass for the next few decades,” says Michael Lynch AO CBE, chair of the jury and the Art Gallery of South Australia Board’s newly appointed special advisor.

“Commissioning outstanding architecture is a way Adelaide can say to the world what a fantastic, dynamic city we have, and how deeply creativity is woven into our DNA. We have the art to put in the building; we have the appetite and momentum to make this happen.”

Take a look at the shortlisted designs below.

Adjaye Associates (London, UK) and BVN (Sydney, Australia)


The building is conceived as “a mythical primal house” set on the land of the Kaurna people. It negotiates the relationship between Aboriginal Country, urban grid and the future-facing city into “a synthesised moment of cultural enlightenment”.

“The building is organised as naturally as possible: it has a heart which you are brought to, then a series of rooms surround that heart with vantage points and terraces, which connect to the cardinal views and allow the general program of the museum to be celebrated,” explains Sir David Adjaye OBE.  “The intention is to make powerful spaces for art that are compelling viewing, that create community and agency and that make meaningful relationships to context to landscape and to culture.”

“The project is responding to country in two very special ways,” adds BVN principal Kevin O’Brien. “The first thing we need to do is welcome people, and the local ceremony is one of smoking. As you move up through the building, other gestures are then made to other parts of the ritualized landscape and there’s references made by way of openings and cuts that frame specific views back out into distant stories or dreaming tracks within the greater Kaurna country.”

BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group (Copenhagen, Denmark) and JPE Design Studio (Adelaide, Australia

BIG's design proposal for Adelaide ConventionThe design by Big and JPE Design Studio will see the building appear as an extension of the city to the west and pavilions in a garden to the east.

It features an outdoor auditorium on the upper level as well as a sculpture park, which the architects describe as being “a sculpture in nature and sculpture in a more modern, paved setting… where the nature somehow wins”.

David Chipperfield Architects (London, UK) and SJB Architects (Sydney, Australia)


The design from David Chipperfield Architects and SJB Architects is a timber structure, comprising large screens and sloping roofs. Distinct from its neighbours, it sits comfortably as part of both city and garden, providing a threshold between the two.

Volumetrically, three linear, staggered bars extend from North Terrace toward the Botanic Garden. To the north and east, a landscaped garden creates a new vibrant, open space in Adelaide. The Gallery of Time sits at the heart of the building, while areas for further display, learning, debate and engagement are located on the exterior, visible to the city.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro (New York, USA) and Woods Bagot (Adelaide, Australia)


The proposal from Woods Bagot and Diller Scofidio + Renfro is a matrix of spaces that vary in size, height, infrastructure and light quality’

Daylit galleries above and light controlled galleries below will be linked by a ground floor “Super Lobby”.

“This projects needs to anticipate the unanticipatable,” says Charles Renfro, partner and prinicpal atDiller Scofidio + Renfro . “It needs to welcome and engage artists and culture makers, but also the city and the citizens of Adelaide and the world.

Being located on the urban edge between the city and the botanic garden, there is such a a wonderful opportunity to make a building that is porous, open and welcoming and to be an educational extension.”

HASSELL (Melbourne, Australia) and SO-IL (New York, USA)


“We have taken inspiration from what makes Adelaide special. Like the River Torrens Karrawirra Parri – a powerful and gracious river that gives life to Adelaide – Adelaide Contemporary will carry and deposit fertile ideas along the course of culture, constantly attracting, hosting, and transmitting pulses between the Australian heartland and locations abroad,” explain the architects.

“The architecture we propose hosts both the formal and the informal; the everyday and the exceptional. It is humble enough to be open-ended as well as audacious enough to generate more energy than it consumes. It experiments outside the conventional tropes of institutional architecture. Through sensitivity and lightness, the building will restore the parkland to a state of balance between nature, art, and people.”

Khai Liew (Adelaide, Australia), Office of Ryue Nishizawa (Tokyo, Japan) and Durbach Block Jaggers (Sydney, Australia)


“We propose a museum like a park with open areas where people can stay freely and gradually shift from art, nature, and public spaces while wandering through the architecture. We imagine architecture that sits gently on the ground to allow for everyone to criss-cross the site freely and to experience gradually integrating urban and natural atmospheres,” explain the architects.

“Like a park where different activities happen simultaneously, this place gathers a museum, public spaces, nature, people, terraces and sculptures as part of one realm. We envisioned a large roof to create a comfortable, shaded place to invite people underneath. While providing soft shade, the horizontal gesture of the roof creates openness on all sides so breeze and nature flow through. By creating a large roof floating above the place, we had a feeling it could become a place in Adelaide where people gather, spend time and meet art; where they use the place freely as they imagine.”

A free-to-enter public exhibition of the shortlisted concept designs is being held at the Art Gallery of South Australia in Adelaide from 12 May to 10 June.

The jury, made up of nine eminent figures from the arts, architecture, culture and business will subsequently meet to interview the teams and the winner announcement is
expected later in the year.


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