The recently completed $400m expansion of the Adelaide Convention Centre (ACC) by Woods Bagot saw the practice realise the client’s vision, which was “to be inspired by and be inspiration for South Australia”.
The brief for the project, which is an entrant in the 2018 Shaw Contract Design Awards, was to provide three venues that seamlessly combine to compete in a highly competitive Australian conference market.
“The vision statement for the new East Building was to celebrate what is great about South Australia, so creating a unique and memorable visitor experience was vital,” Simon Tothill senior associate at Woods Bagot tells ADR.
The existing facility is situated between Adelaide’s premier cultural boulevard and picturesque Riverbank Parklands. Woods Bagot took advantage of this prime location by enabling a food retail experience on the Riverbank Promenade supported by the infrastructure within the Convention Centre.
Constructed over Adelaide’s busiest Railway Station, the facility needed a clever design solution to increase the capacity of the land-locked centre and remain operational during building works.
“Woods Bagot developed a design concept that celebrates the natural beauty of the local Australian outback,” continues Tothill. “The building’s form and façade was inspired by a geology and weathering process that resulted in one of the region’s most distinctive natural tourist attractions – the Remarkable Rocks on Kangaroo Island, a series of eroded granite boulders perched on a rock shelf that fronts the ocean.”
The building form was then sculpted to take advantage of the prominent riverbank views and weathered with voids that became the window and door openings of the facility.
“The design story evolved to include a crystalline, jewel-like interior inspired by the crystals found inside geode rocks of the outback. The sharply facetted and folded interior created spaces that respond to the energy and functional requirements of the events held in the centre.”
To complement the interior design intent, Woods Bagot chose Shaw Contract ‘Bevel’ Hexagon carpet tiles, which create connection points and removes the usual linear path to facilitate networking and collaboration.
“The rotated hexagonal format of the tile has combined perfectly to produce an effect that blends with the design features of the ceiling and walls,” says Tothill.
“The highly adaptable spaces of the Adelaide Convention Centre East Building required a durable product with a broadloom carpet effect and with Shaw we were able to find a high-quality product that seamlessly suited the design of our irregularly shaped spaces.”
The brand’s sustainability credentials were also appealing. “We weren’t willing to compromise our design or the environmentally sustainable credentials of this project. The hexagon carpet blended with our design story and met our need for a robust, cradle-to-cradle rated product”.
With space a challenge for the project – the site is one of the most prominent land locked parcels in the city, which makes any expansion difficult – Woods Bagot worked closely with the client to determine which functions could be overlapped.
“The auditorium can divide into 16 different modes including a mode with exhibition hall plus six meeting rooms,” says Tothill. “Within five minutes, two 320 seat auditoria can rotate on their own axis to split from the main space – there are five basic divisions of the 3,200 seat main theatre alone.
“The shape of the auditorium generated lobbies with large expanses of self-shading glass capturing panoramic views of the riverbank parklands. With careful consideration for services these are also some of the most sought after events spaces in Adelaide”.
The Shaw Contract Design Awards recognise the creative vision of the architects and designers who inspire new ways of living, working, learning and healing. The Awards place a spotlight on a diverse range of talents from across the globe, celebrating design in action and purposefully rewarding the innovative and truly inspiring work being done by the architecture and design community.
Shaw is an ADR content partner