Royal Adelaide Hospital design competition announced

June 28, 2013

ODASA, Renewal SA and the South Australian state government announce an open ideas competition to explore the potential of the Royal Adelaide Hospital site.

At one of the recent Tuesday@Tusculum events (Thinking Outside the [Green] Square, Tuesday 25 June at Tusculum House in Sydney), Competition Advisor and Registrar for the Green Square competition, Stephen Varady, was host to an engaging and particularly pertinent debate on competitions and the profession. Joining Varady were notable guest speakers Graham Jahn AM, Jesse McNicoll and James Weirick. The discussion was given in conjunction with a presentation given by the competition’s winners, Stewart Hollenstein.

An exploration of the processes and difficulties of getting the competition off the ground was fascinating, but the closing comments from Jahn were of considerable interest. In paraphrasing, he described how this competition had allowed a discussion to unfurl, which could impact more broadly upon architectural culture in Australia.

Competitions seem to be the lifeblood for a profession that is wilting under external, economic forces: an opportunity for young architects to express themselves and to stimulate ideas for the built environment. Such an opportunity presents itself as the Office for Design and Architecture SA (ODASA), in conjunction with Renewal SA, have invited participants from around the world to submit ideas for the current Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) site as part of an ideas competition to be held by the South Australian state government.

South Australian Premier, Jay Weatherill, announced the competition as part of the Greater Riverbank Precinct Implementation Plan, which brings together a revitalised Bonython Park, biomedical precinct, entertainment precinct and the current RAH site. The Adelaide City Council, business owners and members of the community will assist the State Government in formulating key criteria for the site with an independent jury panel to select the winning proposals.

“The Royal Adelaide Hospital site provides a unique opportunity and challenge for Adelaide. Its heritage buildings are a central part of the institutional precinct on North Terrace. We want the best ideas we can gather for how to replace the hospital when it moves to its new home in 2016,” Weatherill said.

The design-led engagement process incorporates a two-stage competition, which is open to local and international architects. Stage one will invite anonymous submissions, which will then go on display for public comment. Six teams will then be shortlisted by an independent panel, and these candidates will team up with South Australian representatives and be asked to submit final proposals, with prizes for winners.

“This is a process similar to that which developed some of Australia’s great sites, including Melbourne’s Spencer Street Station,” said Ben Hewett, SA Government Architect. “I am anticipating world-class proposals that contribute to the vision of the broader Riverbank Precinct. We will be asking design teams to come up with economically viable ideas to support the East End and to inspire the local community.”

In providing a brief and site of heritage and reasonable complexity, the RAH ideas competition promotes the need for fresh approaches, new ideas and to develop an architectural culture that can only thrive if there is sufficient exploration.

Stage one (18 July – 28 August 2013) will invite design teams to anonymously submit their initial concepts, with designs shared with the public through a dedicated website. The competition is open to registered architects and landscape architects in Australia and internationally.

Stage two (16 September – 8 November 2013) is the opportunity for the six shortlisted design teams to incorporate further community and stakeholder feedback and to develop and modify their stage one submission. During this stage, all finalists are required to include South Australian firms’ participation in their team.

A provision of $1.5m from the State Budget has been allocated for the design process for the future of the RAH site. The competition brief will ask entrants to consider:

  • Civic and cultural opportunities
  • Best practice in sustainable design
  • Connection to the city, park lands and the riverbank
  • Open space as an extension of the park lands
  • Respect for the cultural and built heritage, adaptive reuse and innovative new uses
  • Economically viable ideas that support the east end, the city of Adelaide and the state of South Australia

The competition winner will receive a prize of AU$200,000, while second and third prize winners will receive AU$70,000 and AU$30,000 respectively. An AU$10,000 people’s choice award will also be presented.

It is anticipated that the final proposals will be unveiled to the public in December 2013.

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