Jury pick winning design for Adelaide Contemporary

Image of the winning design for the Adelaide Contemporary International Design Competition, designed by Diller Scofidio and Renfro and Woods Bagot.

A design incorporating a performance lab and a suspended rooftop garden has been unveiled as the jury’s top choice in the Adelaide Contemporary International Design Competition.

The winning team is Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Woods Bagot with a design the international competition jury said “presented a highly dynamic building for the future” and “which would create something truly unique for Adelaide”.

An international design competition for the establishment of a contemporary cultural space on two hectares of the oRAH site was initiated in 2017. Expressions of Interest were received from 107 design teams, made up of over 525 firms across five continents, which were then whittled down to a shortlist of six teams selected to develop concept designs. Finalists were judged by an international jury comprised of nine eminent figures from the Arts, architecture, culture and business sectors.

"The overwhelming global attention this process has invited from design, creative and infrastructure leaders and the world’s media has put the creation of Adelaide’s next great cultural destination on the international map," said Arts South Australia Executive Director, Peter Louca

"This was reflected in the high calibre of teams and proposals which challenged the international jury."

Featuring a dramatic ground floor “super lobby” and floating top-floor sky galleries, the winning design also proposes nine flexible gallery spaces, each a different size and height, offering a variety of options for the presentation of art. The elevated garden open to the sky would be inspired by the Kaurna concept of Minkunthi (meaning “to relax”) with planting of a pre-colonised South Australian landscape, linking the idea of the contemporary to the Kaurna ecological and cultural history.

At the heart of the winning building the team proposed a performance lab "that would engender new kinds of cultural making and observation", according to the jury report. The building's adaptability provides performance, exhibition, research, education and retail spaces currently lacking within existing arts infrastructure assets.

The jury also praised the team’s urban analysis and integrated landscape design, with the building stepping down along the topography of the site. They felt this has led to something distinctive and respectful to the Kaurna people; a design underpinned by a connection to site and Country.

"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," said International Jury Chair, Michael Lynch AO CBE

"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 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."

Diller Scofidio + Renfro has an international track record with projects including The Broad in Los Angeles and The Shed and The High Line in New York, while Woods Bagot is responsible for the striking SAHMRI building and the Adelaide Convention Centre. Diller Scofidio + Renfro Partner Elizabeth Diller was recently listed in Time magazine’s 100 most influential people, the only architect to be named on the 2018 list.

The jury considered the proposal should be a starting point for further discussion and refinement with key stakeholders under the direction of Arts South Australia.