An internationally-flavoured shortlist has been announced for Parramatta’s Powerhouse Museum, with six design teams selected to compete for the landmark project.
The brief includes the transformation of the Powerhouse Museum into a cultural precinct for Parramatta, establishing a 24-hour Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences along with public spaces and a pedestrian bridge over the Parramatta River.
New South Wales Minister for the Arts Don Harwin announced a shortlist of six teams, led by mostly international firms, with names like Bernardes Arquitetura and Steven Holl peppering the list.
The development and design of the Powerhouse Precinct is Australia’s largest cultural infrastructure project currently under way.
It will secure a vibrant arts and cultural precinct for the city as seeks to establish itself as the “Central River City”, redirecting economic and social opportunity to Parramatta’s new CBD.
The 140-year-old cultural institution will be relocated to Parramatta from Ultimo.
The design competition for the cultural precinct created a minor furore, after a group of Australian architects penned a letter advising the government against pursuing a shortlist of big-name global firms.
The 22 signatories, led by national architecture award winner Angelo Candalepas, said the merit of the scheme, not the architect, should be the paramount consideration.
Minister Harwin said that the competition attracted 74 expressions of interest from 529 individual firms from 20 countries.
“The level of global interest we received has more than justified our excitement in moving forward with this Western Sydney project.
“I am particularly thrilled to see our finalist teams include Australian lead firms, collaborations between emerging and seasoned practices and between Australian and international talent.”
Sydney-based firm Chrofi has partnered with Indigenous interdisciplinary artist Reko Rennie, who explores his Aboriginal identity in contemporary urban environments.
The competition jury, led by chair Naomi Milgrom, includes city architect for Parramatta Kim Crestani, OMA managing partner David Gianotten, MAAS chief executive Lisa Havilah, architect Wendy Lewin and Infrastructure NSW head of projects David Riches.
Havilah said the Parramatta precinct will mark the Powerhouse Museum’s sixth relocation.
“This new chapter will carry forward the legacy of the 140-year-old institution by creating a place that is welcoming and inclusive of the diverse communities of Greater Sydney.”
“The Powerhouse Precinct will set a new benchmark in cultural placemaking for Greater Sydney and will be a symbol of a new approach to creative activity and engagement.”
The two-stage competition process is being managed by international consultancy Malcolm Reading.
• AL_A (UK) and Architectus (Australia)
• Bernardes Architecture (Brazil) and Scale Architecture (Australia)
• BVN Architecture (Australia) and Carlo Ratti Associati (Italy)
• CHROFI (Australia) with Reko Rennie (Australia)
• Moreau Kusunoki (France) and Genton (Australia)
• Steven Holl Architects (United States) and Conrad Gargett (Australia)