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Landscape design competition news at the National Gallery Sculpture Garden

Set to undergo a $60-million revitalisation, the National Gallery of Australia has announced the launch of a landscape design competition for its Sculpture Garden.

Landscape design competition news at the National Gallery Sculpture Garden

Clement Meadmore, Virginia.

Established in 1981 and located in Kamberri/Canberra, the National Gallery Sculpture Garden was designed by landscape architects Harry Howard and Associates alongside Barbara Buchanan and Roger Vidler. It’s the largest and most significant sculpture garden in Australia, and its original design formed a response to and extension of the building’s triangular geometric spatial configuration crafted by Colin Madigan AO and his team.

The three-hectare garden surrounds the National Gallery on its setting by the shores of Lake Burley Griffin. Its native plants are suited to the distinctive, extreme Canberra climate, with its winter weather and hot dry summers. Sculptors and artists whose work is on show there include Bert Flugelman, Clement Meadmore, Auguste Rodin, Thancoupie (Dhaynagwidh/Thaynakwith people), Fujiko Nakaya and James Turrell.

The Sculpture Garden Design Competition has just been announced and is set to involve an open-call, two-stage competition. The aim is to select a design team to create an innovative design incorporating a public place for experiencing art, education, cultural and social events – all while respecting the garden’s original design intent and heritage values. 

Related: An exhibition with vision and meaning in Thailand

Fujiko Nakaya.

“This is a very important site in regard to Australia’s cultural heritage and offers a rare opportunity to contribute to the modernisation of a national institution,” says Gallery Director, Dr Nick Mitzevich. “There is complexity and dynamism in what we are seeking, and we are excited to see the innovation the industry can offer to this unique design opportunity. Our aspiration is to build on the original landscape design, while respecting the ethos at the heart of that design. However, we don’t want to limit responses through predetermined concepts and encourage applicants to put together something we haven’t seen before.”

Notably, the competition is open to all design teams, with multidisciplinary partnerships – Australian, international or both – especially encouraged to enter. Applicants are also encouraged to include a landscape architect, a First Nations practitioner, artist, architect and botanist or horticulturalist in their entry teams.

Bert Flugelman.

Dr Nick Mitzevich adds thats “consulting with Australian First Nations peoples is imperative to the delivery of this project. The competition is open to all design teams and encourages multidisciplinary partnership.”

Guided by Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) Life Fellow, Annabelle Pegrum AM, the Stage One Competition Brief has been developed in collaboration with a panel of eminent individuals with industry experience across landscape design and architecture, art, architecture, education, heritage, accessibility and botany. The stated emphasis is on unique and imaginative conceptual designs which create a responsive landscape of resilience designed to mitigate climate change and enhance the mature trees and other plantings, with sustainability, accessibility and embedding First Nations principles central.

Antony Gormley.

Entries for Stage One close 12 noon AEST on Wednesday 29 May 2024. Entries will be assessed by the Jury anonymously and a shortlist will be announced in June 2024. Stage Two will then see shortlisted entrants invited to further develop their conceptual designs for consideration by a jury comprising Professor Philip Goad (Chair), Nici Cumpston OAM, Dr Nick Mitzevich and Teresa Moller.

National Gallery of Australia


Auguste Rodin.
Thanakupi Eran.
Tracey Emin.
Lisa Roet.
Mark Di Suvero.
Photograph by Rory Gardiner.

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