Acclaimed New York architects with leading Adelaidean practice convince jury with concept design to create a dynamic new art space on Adelaide’s celebrated North Terrace. Arts South Australia and competition organisers Malcolm Reading Consultants announced that the team led by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (US) with Woods Bagot (Australia) has won the Adelaide Contemporary International Design Competition.
The winning team’s concept design reconciled the brief for a dynamic people-friendly new place with a skilfully-organised gallery, while also incorporating a performance lab, a dramatic ‘Super Lobby’, floating top-floor sky galleries and a suspended rooftop garden.
The garden, inspired by ‘Minkunthi’, the Kaurna word ‘to relax’, would display the planting of a pre-colonised South Australian landscape, linking the idea of the contemporary to Kaurna ecological and cultural history.
The building was described by the team in their presentation as a charismatic soft beacon on North Terrace that would reflect the sky by day and, at night, glow with galleries – allowing visitors to glimpse the art collection as they passed the building outside formal opening hours and, in this sense, ‘giving the 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 decision follows a seven-month global search for an outstanding team to design a new cultural destination on part of the former Royal Adelaide Hospital (oRAH) site. The competition attracted submissions from 107 teams made up of circa 525 individual firms from five continents.
The new gallery and public sculpture park is envisaged as one of the most significant new arts initiatives of 21st-century Australia, providing a national focal point for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and cultures as well as new spaces for major exhibitions, and the opportunity to unlock the hidden treasures of South Australia’s State collections.
Michael Lynch AO CBE, chair of the jury and the Art Gallery of South Australia Board’s Special Advisor, said: “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 design foregrounds South Australia’s exceptional collections and capitalises on the momentum of the Art Gallery of South Australia’s recent successes in celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and culture. 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.” Source and images Courtesy of Art Gallery of South Australia.