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Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Woods Bagot take out Adelaide Contemporary

After a seven month, international process, a winning design has been announced for the Adelaide Contemporary gallery.

  • View from the north of the winning Adelaide Contemporary design.

  • The newly added performance lab.

  • The upper level and rooftop, which will be planted with Indigenous trees and shrubs.

Renowned New York practice Diller Scofidio + Renfro, together with Australian architecture studio Woods Bagot have been announced as the winners of the international Adelaide Contemporary architecture competition. The competition calls for a new world-class art space, which will be on the site of the old Royal Adelaide Hospital.

The new art precinct is situated on the celebrated North Terrace and has been organised by South Australian Government in conjunction with Malcolm Reading Consultants.

Six international shortlisted teams were announced at the end of 2017, with designs released just a few weeks ago.

The winning team’s concept responded to the brief for an organised gallery space that is also welcoming to the public. In addition, the design incorporates a performance lab, a ‘super lobby’, floating top-floor sky galleries and suspended rooftop garden.

Another integral incorporation for the proposed design is seen through references to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, in particular, a pre-colonised South Australian landscape in the garden. 

The upper level and rooftop, which will be planted with Indigenous trees and shrubs.

The upper level and rooftop, which will be planted with Indigenous trees and shrubs.

The team described the design as a charismatic soft beacon on North Terrace that will reflect the sky by day, and glow at night. This transparency in the evening will allow people to glimpse the art collection as they pass the building, which is seen as ‘giving art back to the city’.

The nine-strong international jury, chaired by Michael Lynch AO CBE, found the concept design to be resonant to Adelaide, and its famous festival culture, promising to create spectacle and attract new audiences with dynamic, multipurpose spaces while also displaying a sound understanding of current art practice and offering a flexible but distinctive gallery configuration on a nine-square model.

The newly added performance lab.

The newly added performance lab.

“The winning team’s concept design responds to this once-in-a-generation opportunity for a landmark building in the heart of the city, positioned on the edge of the Botanic Garden. In a city famous for its festivals, the design creates a new place that embraces art in all of its forms and appeals to a broad audience, both local and international.

“The jury was impressed by the winning team’s assured understanding of the future of art, performance and 21st-century programming, as well as its flair for placemaking. It was an inspired insight by the winning team to conceive the building stepping down along the topography of the site and so creating a genuine connection to site and Country, respectful to the Kaurna people as well as integrating the Botanic Garden into the design,” said Michael Lynch AO CBE, chair of the jury and the Art Gallery of South Australia Board’s Special Advisor.

Adelaide Contemporary International Design Competition Jury:

  • Michael Lynch AO CBE (Chair), Chair, Sydney Community Foundation and Chair, Circa
  • Lee-Ann Tjunypa Buckskin, Deputy Chair, Australia Council for the Arts, Managing Director, L-AB & Associates and Executive, Aboriginal Strategy, South Australian Film Corporation
  • Beatrice Galilee, Daniel Brodsky Associate Curator of Architecture and Design, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
  • Walter Hood, Creative Director and Founder, Hood Design Studio
  • David Knox, Deputy Chair, Economic Development Board of South Australia and Member, Adelaide Botanic Gardens Foundation Committee
  • Toshiko Mori, Founder and Principal, Toshiko Mori Architect and Robert P. Hubbard Professor in the Practice of Architecture at Harvard University Graduate School of Design
  • Lisa Slade, Assistant Director, Artistic Programs, Art Gallery of South Australia
  • Sally Smart, Vice-Chancellor’s Professorial Fellow, University of Melbourne and renowned contemporary artist
  • Tracey Whiting, Chair, Art Gallery of South Australia Board, and
  • The competition jury was advised by Malcolm Reading, Competition Director, and fully supported by a panel of technical advisers.

See all the designs from the shortlisted entries here.

Team photo by Saul Steed. All other images © Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Woods Bagot.

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