Winner of Adelaide Contemporary International Design Competition Revealed

Woods Bagot and New York-based Diller Scofidio + Renfro has won the Adelaide Contemporary International Design Competition.

The proposed Adelaide Contemporary would be located on the 15,000 square metre site of the Old Royal Adelaide Hospital on North Terrace, adjacent to the Adelaide Botanic Garden.

The competition attracted submissions from 107 teams made up of 525 individual firms from five continents.

Woods Bagot and Diller Scofidio + Renfro's winning design included a dramatic lobby, floating galleries, a suspended rooftop garden and a 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,” jury chair Michael Lynch said.

The jury found the winning design resonated with Adelaide's festival culture and had the potential to create a spectacle.

“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,” Lynch said.

Related reading: Stellar Shortlist Announced for Adelaide Art Gallery Architect

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.

One prerequisite for a winning design was that it provide a home for South Australia's collection of contemporary Aboriginal art.

“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,” Lynch said.

“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.”

Related reading: Brisbane Set to Receive Australia’s Largest Performing Arts Venue

A performance lab in the winning proposal for Adelaide Contemporary by Diller Scofidio and Renfro and Woods Bagot.
Diller Scofidio and Renfro and Woods BagotImage: Diller Scofidio and Renfro and Woods Bagot

Design competition director Malcolm Reading said the winning design centred on healing Adelaide’s civic realm and that the former hospital created a physical disconnect between the cultural boulevard and the Botanic Gardens.

“The winning scheme is tightly-engineered, works the site hard, but is also a lot of fun,” Reading said.

“It has the potential to speak to new generations who are developing their own cultural identity, and offer a new focus for the city, much needed as Adelaide continues to grow and flourish.”

Related reading: Walsh Bay Arts Precinct Revamp Gets Green Light

The winning proposal for Adelaide Contemporary by Diller Scofidio and Renfro and Woods Bago.
Diller Scofidio and Renfro and Woods BagotImage: Diller Scofidio and Renfro and Woods Bagot

The global design competition for South Australia's planned new Adelaide Contemporary gallery and public space was launched in October 2017 with five shortlisted teams announced in December.

The outcome of the competition has done little to clarify the next movements of the South Australian government who have still not committed to building the gallery.

Prior to the South Australian election in March, the then-opposition proposed an alternative Aboriginal art gallery and 16-story hotel for the Old Royal Adelaide Hospital site.

In May, premier Steven Marshall told the ABC the government was "pressing the pause button" on both proposals.

“What we want to do is to work with the two major collections and the Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute to work out what we can envisage for this site,” Marshall said.

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