International competition to design new Adelaide art gallery

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South Australian Museum (left) and Art Gallery of South Australia (right) along the revitalized North Terrace by Taylor Cullity Lethlean and Peter Elliott Architecture and Urban Design.

South Australian Museum (left) and Art Gallery of South Australia (right) along the revitalized North Terrace by Taylor Cullity Lethlean and Peter Elliott Architecture and Urban Design. Image: John Gollings

The South Australian government has launched a two-stage international design competition for a new art gallery in centre of Adelaide.

Known as Adelaide Contemporary, the proposed 15,000-square-metre gallery will be a new landmark for the city – a “unique art destination” that combines a contemporary art gallery with a public sculpture park and meeting place.

The government envisions the proposed gallery as being “uniquely Adelaide,” drawing on the city’s progressive culture and reputation as a “city of festivals.”

The gallery will be situated at the eastern end of the former Royal Adelaide Hospital on North Terrace, adjacent to the Adelaide Botanic Garden. The site, 400 metres from the Art Gallery of South Australia, will bookend the “cultural boulevard” of the city on North Terrace.

The gallery will be the first new building commission for the Art Gallery of South Australia since 1996, when the historic building by government architect Alfred Simpson was restored and extended by Peddle Thorp Walker and Robert Dickson.

The project will integrate art, education, nature and people and will feature accessible community meeting spaces. The competition brief calls for an “environmentally aware and future-facing design.”

The gallery will be home to the world’s first “Gallery of Time” which will feature South Australia’s collection of historic and contemporary Indigenous art and works by Asian and European artists. It will also require spaces for internationally significant installations, “blockbuster” temporary exhibitions and spaces to exhibit film, performance and design.

The two-stage competition comprises an initial open call for expressions of interest, open to Australian and international architects. The government is seeking architect-led teams that also include landscape architects and may include way finding specialists, accessibility consultants, artists or other creative collaborators.

Up six teams will be selected to develop concept designs for stage two. Teams proceeding to stage two must include Australian registered architects. A $90,000 honorarium will be paid to each stage-two shortlisted team.

The competition jury will be chaired by Michael Lynch, former chief executive of the Sydney Opera House, former chief executive of the Southbank Centre in London and former chief executive of the West Kowloon Cultural District in Hong Kong. The full jury is yet to be announced.

The shortlist will be announced in mid-December 2017 and the winner will be announced in late-May or early June 2018. A public exhibition of shortlisted designs will be held in Adelaide prior to jury deliberations.

The competition will inform final business case and funding approval for the project.

Adelaide Contemporary will be a key component of an innovative, mixed-use urban quarter in the redevelopment of the former Royal Adelaide Hospital site.

In September 2017, the South Australian government dumped the private consortium chosen to development the former hospital site because the final proposal did not represent the best value for taxpayers.

The government, through its regeneration agency Renewal SA, have taken control of the redevelopment of seven-hectare site. As well as a new gallery, the government’s vision for the precinct includes a new minimum five-star hotel; new uses for the heritage buildings; and returning two hectares of the site to the adjacent Botanic Gardens and has sought a landscape architect for the design. The government plans to open up 70 percent of the site to the public, as well as develop educational and research facilities and spaces for commercial tenancies.

The private proposal planned to construct 1080 apartments, 150 student dwellings and 60 supported residential aged care dwellings. The government plans to substantially reduce the residential development, instead focusing on student accommodation, aged-care living and short-term accommodation. 

Expressions of interest close 24 November. To make a submission, or for more information on the competition, click here.


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