Winner announced for Adelaide Contemporary design competition

Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Woods Bagot have emerged as the winner of the Adelaide Contemporary International Design Competition with a design focussed on flexibility and Kaurna heritage.

The competition saw a jury of Australian and international individuals from the worlds of art, design and business examine six finalist designs for the site mooted to host a brand new contemporary gallery on the old Royal Adelaide (oRAH) site. The jury said the winning design was picked for its “highly dynamic” design and capacity to “create something truly unique for Adelaide”.

“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,” competition jury chair Michael Lynch says in a release. “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.”

Established in October 2017 by the Art Gallery of South Australia, the Adelaide Contemporary Design Competition received initial submissions from 107 design teams, made up of more than 525 firms from across the world. The six-team shortlist was arrived at in December 2017, with each team required to have an Australian architect or architecture firm attached to the project.

The New York City-based firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro came to the competition with a strong international reputation, having worked on projects such as The Broad in Los Angeles and The High Line in New York. Woods Bagot makes up the Adelaide side of the team, having recently made an impact locally with the SAHMRI building and Adelaide Convention Centre extension.

The winning design proposes a series of gallery spaces linked by a “radically welcoming super lobby” on its ground floor. Upper spaces would be mostly day-lit and the subterranean spaces lit artificially.

The winning design also has a distinct link to Aboriginal Australia, with an elevated garden inspired by the Kaurna concept of Mikunthi (“to relax”) and expressed intent to pay respect to the Kaurna people’s ecological and cultural history. This aspect of the design is pertinent in the context of the new Marshall government’s election promise to build an Aboriginal Art and Culture Museum on the oRAH site.

While this design has won the Adelaide Contemporary International Design Competition, deliberations over the final outcome for the site are continuing.

The six finalist designs will continue to be on display at the Art Gallery of South Australia until Monday, June 11.

Adelaide In-depth

Get the latest stories, insights and exclusive giveaways delivered straight to your inbox every week.